Erik ten Hag: Friends tried to talk Manchester United boss out of taking ‘impossible’ job

Erik ten Hag: Friends tried to talk Manchester United boss out of taking 'impossible' job

Erik ten Hag applauds Manchester United fans at Old Trafford
Manchester United finished fourth in the Premier League in Erik ten Hag’s first season in charge of the club

Erik ten Hag said friends tried to talk him out of taking over as Manchester United manager because they thought he faced an “impossible job”.

The Dutchman left Ajax to take over at Old Trafford in 2022 and has been under pressure in his second season.

Ten Hag told fanzine United We Standexternal-link he was warned how tough life would be.

“Everyone was telling me ‘You can’t succeed in that job’. They said it was impossible. Me? I wanted the challenge,” the 53-year-old said.

In his first season in English football, former Bayern Munich youth boss Ten Hag ended United’s six-year wait for a trophy when they beat Newcastle in the EFL Cup final.

However, the Red Devils are way off the pace of leaders Arsenal in the Premier League table and are bottom of their Uefa Champions League group with one match left to play.

They have not seriously challenged for the Premier League or the Champions League since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.

Ten Hag is the sixth man – after David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick – to try to bring success back to the club.

“I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but it was such a great club with such a great fanbase,” Ten Hag added.

“People love Man Utd, or they are against Man Utd. I like clubs like this. Ajax was like this.”

United’s 2-1 victory over Chelsea on Wednesday has provided Ten Hag with some respite from the increasing pressure he is facing.

He denied earlier this week there were rifts in his squad, although, evidently, Jadon Sancho’s continuing exile means there is at least one player with whom the Dutchman has no working relationship.

However, despite the financial impact of freezing out a player who cost United £74m when they bought him from Borussia Dortmund in 2021, Ten Hag insisted he stands by his treatment of the England international.

With an announcement about Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s INEOS Group purchasing a 25% stake in the club believed to be imminent, fresh impetus could be around the corner for the Red Devils.

But the deal is unlikely to be concluded quickly enough to have a significant impact on the club’s January transfer window spending, and Ten Hag doesn’t expect to do much business.

“I don’t think [we will spend a lot],” he said.

“As a club, you have to look for improvements, so if you can find better and it’s realistic financially and with Financial Fair Play, the club has to go with it.

“But most of the time you don’t attract the best players in the winter.”

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