Mon. Nov 29th, 2021

Manchester United seems to be at a crossroads with Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

The United manager’s time at the helm may well be being curtailed, with various reports suggesting the club is sending out potential successors.

A name that keeps popping up in all sorts of replacement discourse is current Ajax manager Erik ten Hag, with many United fans believing he could be the man to bring the good times back to Old Trafford.

United, however, must be very careful.

There is no doubt that Ten Hag has been a great manager at Ajax. Fans have seen him care and get the best out of people like Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong, Donny van de Beek and Hakim Ziyech, with two Eredivisie titles since his appointment in December 2017 a beautiful return.

Guiding Ajax to the Champions League semi-final 2018/19 is without a doubt his best performance at the club, but there are also a number of points to be stacked in the ‘cons column’ when considering whether he would fit in well with United.

A major negative feature of Ten Hag is that he is not very media savvy. The Ajax boss lacks charisma and can sometimes struggle with his English, which means he is constantly mocked by Dutch football TV show Veronica inside for his crunchy interviews.

Although leaders should definitely not be mocked for their struggles with other languages ​​- especially when most people who mock them cannot speak another language themselves – it happens all too often in the Premier League.

Mauricio Pochettino was known for his poor understanding of the English language when he first came to Southampton and was occasionally mocked because of it.

Former Arsenal boss Unai Emery also suffered a similar fate, but to a much worse degree.

All that was needed was one use of the term “good ebening” for Emery to become a meme sensation from one day to the next in European football, with even Arsenal players mocking the Spaniard in training sessions at the end of his Gunners period.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær is under great pressure at Manchester United.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær is under enormous pressure at Manchester United

United have always had managers who could handle the pressure from the media. Sir Alex Ferguson always had a presence around him every time he got a microphone pushed in front of his face (even though he banned the media for years), Louis van Gaal was always great for a soundbite, and Jose Mourinho seemed to demand media attention .

Even Solskjær has navigated around the media, probably due to the fact that he had to deal with those who play in such an elite club.

Ten Hag may not adapt as easily, and when you become a football meme, it can be hard to brush off.

Emery var relatively success at Arsenal, finished in fifth place and reaching the Europa League final in his only full season at the Emirates Stadium, but the “good ebening” meme will forever be how he is remembered in England despite his fantastic efforts since moving to Villarreal.

Maybe if Ten Hag is appointed, he could take a leaf out of Marcelo Bielsa’s book. Though it makes the strange joke be made at his expense, having a translator by his side has constantly stopped the social media sharks circling him and mocking his poor English.

Even if Ten Hag were to understand the English language perfectly within months of arriving at United, his appointment would still be questionable.

Frank de Boer spent over five years as an Ajax boss and left with a packed collection of winning medals, although his subsequent periods with Inter Milan and Premier League jersey Crystal Palace left much to be desired.

Peter Bosz has also struggled ever since leaving Ajax with tumultuous stays at Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen, while Marcel Keizer has undoubtedly made it even worse since leaving the Amsterdam giants.

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Could Ten Hag be the next to be added to the list?

His tactical nus proves that he has the potential to become a great manager, but in my opinion Ten Hag is not the man for us – in a few years maybe, but he needs more experience before moving to a club like United .

His lack of charisma and fights with the media does not help, but the big question for me is whether he can really manage a top team, or will he just be made to look like a top manager because the rest of the Eredivisie can not keep up with Ajax ?

Do you think Ten Hag could be the right manager for United? Follow our United On My Mind Editor Mike Parrott on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section below.


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