Four players who would benefit from Erik ten Hag being Manchester United manager – George Smith

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After several months of speculation and never-ending rumours, Manchester United are closing in on appointing Erik ten Hag as their next permanent manager.

As revealed by the Manchester Evening News on Wednesday evening, Ajax expect the Dutchman to leave the Johan Cruyff Arena and be installed as United’s new boss ahead of the start of next season. The 52-year-old, who is a popular choice amongst the supporters, was identified as the club’s preferred candidate last month and was interviewed just over a fortnight ago.

Although nothing has yet been officially signed or sealed, it is highly unlikely that anyone else will be occupying the Old Trafford managerial hot-seat next season. Paris Saint-Germain chief Mauricio Pochettino was Ten Hag’s main rival for the position but United have selected the Dutchman over him.

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Should all go to plan, and Ten Hag takes charge this summer, the size of the challenge awaiting him is an enormous one. United are staring mediocrity in the face and he will be tasked with trying to return them to their former glories, even though there is no quick-fix to their long list of problems.

But Ten Hag, although his arrival should be viewed as a long-term appointment, could be the ideal man to get United on the road to success again. Whilst there is no denying that big changes within the squad are needed this summer, some current Reds stars could thrive from his arrival at Old Trafford, in the sense that he could either resurrect their careers or take them to greater heights.

With that said, MEN Sport has taken a close look at four players who could benefit from the Ajax chief picking up the baton from Ralf Rangnick.

Dean Henderson

Wanted on loan by Ajax ahead of the January transfer window, Dean Henderson’s United career is at a crossroads ahead of the summer. He has made a paltry three appearances this season and if he is not made first-choice goalkeeper this summer he will want to leave Old Trafford more than ever – and who could blame him?

At 25, Henderson is no longer a youngster looking to make the grade. Instead, he is a player that wants to lay down his roots and establish himself as a regular starter at a permanent residence.

But could that still be at Old Trafford? Considering Ajax wanted him a few months ago, Ten Hag’s impending arrival could offer him the lease of life he needs.

It would be harsh on David de Gea to be dropped after such a fantastic season, but Ten Hag may want to install a younger and fresher look to proceedings. If that proves to be the case, and style of play could have a big say, Henderson could get the chance he has been longing for.

Donny van de Beek

It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? However, the prospect of Ten Hag taking over could be Donny van de Beek’s last chance to save his United career.

His time at Old Trafford, as highlighted by his January loan move to Everton, has not gone according to plan and he has struggled to live up to the expectations that greeted his arrival at the club from Ajax in 2020. Under Ten Hag’s management, however, he thrived, playing in a recognisable system that suited him and enabled him to produce the goods, certainly in an attacking sense.

After all, United must have seen something in Van de Beek under Ten Hag to part with almost £40million for his signature. English football, of course, is very different to Dutch football, there can be no argument about it. But Van de Beek could be resurrected under a manager he is familiar with and has an excellent relationship with.

There are no guarantees that the midfielder could finally turn the heat up on his Old Trafford career, but Ten Hag could be the man that enables him to threaten to do just that. If he gets a tune out of him, he would be like a new signing for United.

James Garner

“I do agree that youngsters need to get a chance in the first team but they have to deserve that chance themselves. They have to prove that they are better than the current players or at least have to potential to be better.”

Those were the words that escaped Ten Hag’s lips back in 2019 when he was addressing his usage of young players at Ajax. He has been a big fan of promoting from within and developing young players, such as Ryan Gravenberch and Frenkie de Jong to name just two.



James Garner has excelled on loan at Nottingham Forest this season.

At United, young, exciting prospects are springing up in all directions, least of all in the form of James Garner, who is currently on loan at Nottingham Forest. He has excelled in the Championship with Steve Cooper’s side this season and has ambitions to be a familiar figure within the first-team squad at Old Trafford next season.

Considering United are in desperate need of strengthening their midfield options this summer, Garner will fancy his chances of being a first-team player. His potential is sky-high and his talents have been on show throughout the season at Forest. At just 21, he is a star in the making who could thrive under Ten Hag’s vision.

Anthony Elanga

One of the biggest plus points of Rangnick’s premiership has been the rise of Anthony Elanga. Not even entering the thoughts of many United fans prior to the German’s arrival, he is now a first-team regular.

Equipped with pace, trickery and an eye for goal, Elanga, although he is still far from the finished product, has enormous potential to excite the Old Trafford match-goers for years to come. Whilst Rangnick deserves credit for the way he has developed the Swede in recent months, Ten Hag, you feel, could help take him to the next level.

Creative players, such as Hakim Ziyech, Dusan Tadic and Antony, have thrived under Ten Hag at Ajax, as well as umpteen youngsters, offering hope that Elanga could follow in their footsteps. He is a hugely exciting player and he has already shown glimpses of what he could become later down the line.

With Ten Hag’s track record, as well as his individual brilliance, Elanga could be taken to a whole new level under the Dutchman. His potential, like so many other youngsters at Old Trafford, is frightening.

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