Erik ten Hag demands for Manchester United job have sent reminder of the Glazers’ biggest mistakes – Steven Railston


Erik ten Hag interviewed for the Manchester United job last month and those talks were positive and productive.

Ajax now expect Ten Hag to become United’s next manager but the deal is far from complete. There are details that still need to be discussed and agreed upon between both parties. Ten Hag has made his demands to the club and discussions are ongoing.

The reports that emerged this week suggesting RB Leipzig are interested in Ten Hag weren’t surprising. They could be freely interpreted as intended pressure on United to meet certain demands and it remains to be seen whether that will work. Although Ten Hag would be an exciting appointment, it shows how far United’s standards have fallen that he holds the aces in talks.

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This season couldn’t end quick enough for United. The club is in crisis and transition. It didn’t take long for the hope and optimism that the new campaign brought to be replaced by that familiar feeling of emptiness and despair. It’s not been easy for supporters and they deserve better. The pilgrimage to Old Trafford is supposed to be the highlight of the week and it’s now a joyless chore.

It has been yet another season without silverware. The standards at the club have never been so low over the last few decades and it’s telling that United are suffering their worst trophy drought for 40 years. That speaks louder than any words can.

Ten Hag will be taking on the biggest challenge of his career and he’ll be aware of that. The Dutchman has managed Go Ahead Eagles, Bayern Munich II, Utrecht and Ajax. His body of work at Ajax is impressive, but does he have the character to manage United?

You don’t need to be a football anorak to recognise joining Manchester United at this time has the potential to be quite the sobering reality check. It would represent an entirely different challenge, even without the club being embroiled in the mire it is.

It’s hoped Ten Hag can overcome those barriers but he could understandably have his doubts. As Gary Neville suggested across the weekend, his demands are unlikely to be financial. “They will be about control, recruitment, structure, youth,” Neville said. “I suspect he wants to come in and make sure he’s not exposed to what other managers have been exposed to in these last 10 years.”

Ten Hag’s arrival would be warmly welcomed, but it’s a damning indictment of where United are that he holds the power in talks with the club. Ten Hag’s success has come exclusively in the Eredivisie and that division is hardly a reliable gauge.

Frank de Boer left Ajax for Crystal Palace in 2017 and history will remember him as the worst Premier League manager of all time.

Ten Hag knows Old Trafford is a graveyard for managers and he wants to make sure he has a chance of success, hence his demands, but it shows how far United have fallen that he has the power – in all due respect – to call the shots in talks.

The Glazers have committed an extensive catalogue of mistakes during their ownership for the club to have travelled this unrelenting road of mediocrity. United haven’t suddenly found themselves in this position. It’s a result of gross incompetence from the top.

They are the custodians of the club and that means they are responsible for the standards sinking towards the abyss.

You certainly wouldn’t blame Ten Hag for walking away from the negotiation table.

Yet it’s still expected the allure of United will be enough for him to put his reputation on the line.

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