Manchester United face an anxious wait to see if Erik ten Hag will accept the manager’s job, with Ajax’s technical director raising the possibility of him staying in the wake of their KNVB Cup final defeat on Sunday.
The Dutchman is the overwhelming favourite to step into the United hotseat with intensive talks recently held. Indeed, it was reported last week that Ten Hag has a verbal agreement in place to move to Old Trafford. Furthermore, the 52-year-old has reportedly agreed a three-year deal to make him the Premier League’s highest-ever earning Dutch coach.
In addition, it was intimated that an announcement on Ten Hag’s appointment would be made following this weekend’s Dutch cup final. With Ajax on course to lift the Eredivise title, victory in the Dutch cup final, and securing the Double, was seen as a fitting way to end his tenure.
However, a crazy three-minute period saw Ajax beaten in Sunday’s KNVB cup final. Despite taking the lead through Ryan Gravenberch’s goal from outside the area, they could not hang on.
Erick Gutierrez poked home an equaliser for PSV and three minutes later, a fine strike from reported United target Cody Gakpo earned PSV victory.
The result was extremely disappointing from Ajax, who – but for that period – were the better team throughout.
And after the match, Ajax technical director Gerry Hamstra insists nothing has yet been decided on Ten Hag.
Furthermore, Hamstra has even raised the possibility of the Manchester United managerial target staying put.
“There is interest for Erik ten Hag, that is normal. He has done fantastic,” Hamstra told ESPN.
“We hope he stays. We have to stick with the facts, he has not left yet. He still is focusing on Ajax, so do we.”
Hamstra suggests talks with Ten Hag remain ongoing and that his future is still very much up in the air.
“We did everything possible [to keep him at Ajax]. We were very busy with that. He reacted that he is focusing on Ajax now. Now we are preparing for two scenarios, Ten Hag might stay or might leave.”
Ten Hag won’t discuss Man Utd links after defeat
A disappointed Ten Hag wasn’t in the mood for discussing his future in the wake of the defeat.
Lamenting his side’s failure to hold on for victory, Ten Hag blamed individual errors on his side’s defeat.
“We made two big mistakes at the beginning of the second half,” Ten Hag said. “We let them counter from one of our attacks and win a free-kick, and then it was 1-1. And we needed to keep Gakpo out wide on the left, and instead he cut inside and scored.”
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Ajax will now turn their focus towards retaining the Eredivisie title.
The Amsterdammers won’t the title at a canter last season, beating nearest challengers PSV by 16 points.
This time around, it is far tighter. Ajax currently hold a four-point advantange over PSV with five games remaining.
United’s wait to appoint Ten Hag as their new coach is likely to face a longer wait now. Indeed, Ajax captain Dusan Tadic is also refusing to rule out hopes of the 52-year-old staying in charge.