Solskjaer’s side have lost six of their last 12 matches in all competitions. Chief amongst those was a humiliating 5-0 hammering by Liverpool at Old Trafford. On Saturday, Manchester City became the latest team to leave United’s famous ground with three points, securing a 2-0 victory.
There are currently several options that United could consider. One is that Solskjaer stays on until the end of the season – and beyond if results improve. Another is that United may replace the Norwegian during this season.
The third is replacing Solskjaer at the end of the current season. That could open up new avenues for the club to explore – principally presently-employed managers that may not want to desert their current team mid-season.
One of the most promising managers in world football currently is Ajax boss Erik Ten Hag. His team is presently dominating the Eredivisie and European football.
The Sun reports that the Dutch boss is “reluctant” to leave Ajax mid-season. In that case, if United do stick with Solskjaer for the remainder of the campaign, here’s why Ten Hag is then the perfect man to take over:
Erik Ten Hag’s record
Put simply, Erik Ten Hag’s record at Ajax has been extraordinary.
After his first 100 Eredivisie games in charge, the Dutchman had a points per game average of 2.43. That is the highest of any Ajax trainer in history.
Since being appointed in December 2017, he has won two Eredivisie titles, two domestic cups and the Johan Cruyff Shield (Dutch Super Cup).
In 2019, he guided Ajax to the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time in 22 years. They were just a minute away from reaching the final when Tottenham’s Lucas Moura scored a late winner to consign them to an away goals defeat.
This season, Ajax sit on top of the Eredivisie after 12 games. They have recorded 27 points, as well as conceding only two goals.
In the Champions League, they have recorded four wins from four games in Group C. The highlight of those victories was a 4-0 defeat of Borussia Dortmund last month.
United want to get back to a side that can win trophies regularly – and Ten Hag could be that man.
Erik Ten Hag and budget constraints
One of the unique elements of Ten Hag’s work with Ajax – particularly when it comes to competing in Europe – is his club’s budget constraints compared to other teams.
As per Transfermarkt, Ajax spent just £16.6 million this summer on incomings. They spent £10.8m of that money on winger Mohamed Daramy. They recorded a net spend of -£13.95m, with five players leaving the club for over £30m combined.
Since being appointed, Ten Hag’s record signing is the £20m spent on West Ham forward Sebastien Haller last January. The Frenchman has hit seven goals in four Champions League appearances this campaign.
An ability to work under budget constraints would be less of a factor at United, who spent over £125 million last summer. But Ten Hag’s eye for a player is undoubtedly crucial. United will potentially look to add to what is already a talented squad.
Building multiple successful teams
After Ajax reached the semi-finals of the 2018/19 Champions League, the giants of European football swooped for their top stars.
Last season, meanwhile, Hakim Ziyech and Donny van de Beek departed for Chelsea and Manchester United, respectively, whilst wonderkid Serginho Dest signed for Barcelona.
Erik Ten Hag has been exceptional at replacing players in the transfer market. He has also promoted from within the club.
From last season onwards, new signings Mohammed Kudus (19 years old), Antony (20) and Mohamed Daramy (19) are all contributing members of the squad.
Meanwhile, Ajax academy members Jurrien Timber has received rave reviews for his performances at the heart of the side’s defence. Ten Hag could do similar at United, a club where academy prospects always form an essential part of the squad.
Ten Hag has recruited some players with Eredivisie experience who had previously moved abroad. The likes of Dusan Tadic, Davy Klaassen and Haller have all thrived in Ajax’s system.
The philosophy of Erik Ten Hag
That brings us nicely on to another point. Ajax’s style of play has been one of the main reasons behind their recent success.
With an emphasis on possession football and bringing through homegrown talent, Ajax’s philosophy is one of the most famous in world football.
That dates back to the 1970s when former manager Rinus Michels set out the blueprint for a style that would later become known as ‘total football’.
Ten Hag’s sides use a high pressing style, with one of three midfielders often dropping in to form a three-man defence at times. Given the success Ten Hag has had, it would be easy to see him trying to utilise his style of play at Manchester United – with potentially devastating results.
His use of Donny van de Beek
In recent months, one familiar sight for United fans is midfielder Donny van de Beek warming up on the sidelines as a substitute.
United haven’t been able to extract the same quality from Van de Beek as Ten Hag did at Ajax. In the midfielder’s final two seasons with the Dutch giants, he registered 17 goals and 15 assists in 55 Eredivisie appearances.
Erik Ten Hag could hold the key to allowing Van de Beek to recapture his undoubted exceptional qualities. That would give United another option in a midfield lacking in depth at the moment.
Featured Image Credit: Getty