Steve McClaren has worked alongside Manchester United candidate Erik ten Hag in the past – as well as Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ten Hag was McClaren’s assistant manager at FC Twente in 2008/09 before they became Dutch champions in 2010.
This was long before McClaren was Ferguson’s assistant during the treble season, but from his experience coaching down the years, he is able to draw comparisons between the pair.
McClaren has done an exclusive interview with The Telegraph explaining how Ten Hag impressed him. He also compares the Dutchman to Ferguson duo to his ability to analyse games in real-time and recommend changes that affected matches.
“The only other one I would have seen do that? That would have been the gaffer [Ferguson].”
That’s huge praise for Ten Hag but there’s more where that came from.
“I knew that pre-season was due to start the next day and I said to Erik, ‘Have you got your first day organised?’ Over the next two hours he talked me through six weeks of pre-season work. Every last detail was accounted for. Every document ready. Every drinks break planned. He would say, ‘There is 20 minutes here for you to do your specific season and then we do this.’ I had never seen anything like this before or since.
“For both individuals and for the team the work was the best I had seen. The detail was logged even down to what the coaches would be wearing on each day, and that we would all come out together. He had planned what equipment had to be carried out and when it had to be brought back in. I would occasionally say to Erik during a session, ‘We just need that goal moving to the halfway line’, and he would ask every player in the squad to do it. All 22 players. Everyone goes. That’s the way he likes it.”
It sounds like Ten Hag is the real deal but United still need to make sure they are happy with the work they’ve done to find the right manager. There will be a second round of interviews before a final; decision is made.
“His great strength lies not just in his attention to detail and organisation,” McClaren added.
“He has a clear philosophy of how he wants to play football; the environment he wants to create. The player progression programme was a key part of Twente. He has done that at Ajax too, for each player from the academy to the first team. You look at Hakim Ziyech and now Antony, a very good player who will be the next one to go. I have seen this Ajax team and it’s very good.
“Erik is very disciplined and people have to buy into that and have that work ethic. Tactically he’s outstanding. He worked with Pep [Guardiola] at Bayern Munich and took in his philosophy too. They called him ‘Mini Pep’ out there. He’s ready. A lot of top clubs in Germany and England will be out to get him.”
Ten Hag has already done one interview with United and it sounds like he’s the clear favourite for the job.
That said, United are keeping their options open with Mauricio Pochettino.
Let us know if you think Ten Hag or Pochettino should get the job in the comments section.