Erik ten Hag kicked off his mission to make Manchester United great again by calling a meeting between the three men set to be his closest allies at Old Trafford.
The 51-year-old invited Red Devils Football Director John Murtough, long-time Ajax assistant Mitchell van der Gaag and Steve McClaren to Amsterdam on Thursday. It came less than 24 hours after emphatically wrapping up the Eredivisie title with a 5-0 victory over Heerenveen upon which he finally lifted the lid on his decision to join United.
It has been reported by the Telegraph that Murtough caught an early flight for talks with the trio, who are all well-acquainted with Ten Hag’s footballing philosophy. Van der Gaag has been his right-hand man at Ajax since the start of this season, while McClaren took him under his wing at Twente more than a decade ago. Both are now understood to be on the verge of reuniting with Ten Hag in Manchester.
At the roundtable, the Dutch tactician laid out his transfer blueprint and reaffirmed that he wants to bring in two midfielders during the summer transfer window. To his delight, United are already actively pursuing the signing of ex-Ajax star and current Barcelona ace Frenkie de Jong. A versatile forward is also said to be on the Ten Hag’s shopping list, as well as a centre-back.
It is guaranteed to be a busy summer at Old Trafford due to a number of big-name players departing. Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic are all out of contract, while Cristiano Ronaldo ‘s future remains uncertain. Mirror Football has also learned that Ten Hag wants to keep the five-time Ballon d’Or winner at the club and the incoming gaffer is set to hold virtual meetings with each member of the squad over Zoom.
“It felt like a difficult but great challenge. That is the most beautiful thing there is,” he declared. “There is something to build at United and something to gain. Manchester United is such a big name in football history. It feels like a challenge to put the club back on track of winning.”
The former Utrecht and Bayern Munich reserves manager evidently gave himself no time to party after Wednesday’s title triumph, his third in four completed seasons with Ajax. Immediately after the game, Ten Hag detailed his decision-making process to Voetbal International.
“Old Trafford is nicknamed the Theatre of Dreams for a reason. It is a club with name, fame and allure in international football. Everyone knows the history of the beautiful teams. From Sir Alex Ferguson of course, but also further back in time. The great team of the late fifties, which suddenly disappeared with the plane crash.
“The history is impressive, but I also started to delve into the present and the future. And the options that are available. They are there, also financially. If you also get a good feeling about the people there, then the picture is right and then the factors are present to take this step.”
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