The rising pressure on Erik ten Hag at Manchester United has alerted one of his former clubs of a possible reunion with the Dutchman should the worst happen and the axe fall at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag took charge at United in summer 2022, overseeing a season of tremendous progress in his first year at the helm. Having finished third in the Premier League and won the Carabao Cup, hopes were alive that United would make further strides in Ten Hag’s this time around and further close the gap on all-conquering Manchester City.
However, just nine games into the new season and Ten Hag already finds himself under intense scrutiny with United suffering their worst start to a season in some 34 years. And having been beaten 1-0 at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday, for their fifth loss of the campaign already, #TenHagOut began trending on social media.
As it stands, Ten Hag still retains the support of the club’s current regime, while would-be new owner Sheikh Jassim is also reported to be behind the Dutchman. In addition, Gary Neville, often one of the club’s biggest critics, is also backing Ten Hag to get things right if given time.
However, there can be in no doubt that Ten Hag is going into a massive week at United. They face Galatasaray in the Champions League on Tuesday evening in a game they cannot afford to lose, while they tackle Brentford at Old Trafford on Saturday needing a win to disperse further doubters over Ten Hag’s methods.
Such has been his struggles, however, that growing claims that he is under pressure are standing to catch the attention of former club Ajax.
Ajax alerted to Ten Hag sack talk at Man Utd
The Dutch side, last champions of the Eredivisie in Ten Hag’s final year at the helm in 2021/22, are struggling badly this season. Currently languishing in an unacceptable 15th, Ajax have won just one of their five games so far this season, with fans recently rioting and forcing the abandonment of a game against Feyenoord, having found themselves 3-0 down after just 37 minutes.
That match was ultimately concluded behind closed doors, resulting in a 4-0 triumph for Arne Slot’s reigning champions.
Such are their struggles that the pressure is already cranking up on coach Maurice Steijn, who only took on the job in June. Currently having a win percentage rate of just 25%, there have been calls for Steijn to step down if the situation does not improve.
And while that is unlikely to happen any time soon, there have been claims that Ajax are keeping a close eye on Ten Hag’s situation at United with a staggering return on the cards were the axe to fall at Old Trafford.
Assessing the situation and claims of stunning return to Ajax for Ten Hag, Dutch journalist Kenneth Perez, speaking on Voetbal Primeur, insists it’s not beyond crazy to see Ten Hag back in their dugout.
“Imagine if Erik ten Hag were fired, would it be very crazy for Ajax to ask him back?” Perez said.
“Manchester United is known for the fact that things can get difficult if things don’t go well. Then it’s not a crazy idea, is it?”
Another observer, Willem Vissers, added that Ten Hag’s project at United could soon crumble, saying: “I think that in the end it just won’t work, that whole project of his there. I don’t think he will be a coach there for much longer.”
Ajax a club in real jeopardy
With Ajax in a state of disarray, they have already parted company with Sven Mislintat, who was appointed over the summer as director of football.
Now amid claims that Steijn could be next, another Dutch journalist reckons Ten Hag would be the ideal candidate to repair them, though he also reckons another ex-Man Utd and Ajax coach in Louis van Gaal could also be tempted to return.
Writing in his column for De Volkskrant, Bert Wagendorp wrote: ‘So many charlatans at the controls is asking for trouble.
‘The broom has to be swept through, time for a big cleaning, it is five to twelve, if things continue like this, Ajax will play against Telstar next season, and they will accept a loss the entire Arena in ashes.
‘Louis van Gaal must return, he alone can save Ajax. Johan Cruijff is dead, otherwise he would have returned. Michael van Praag should become chairman again.
‘Hopefully Ten Hag will soon be fired by Manchester United, then he can return to Amsterdam. Marc Overmars is a charlatan but a real Ajax- charlatan: back with that man. Purebred Ajax players are walking around on various fields: all back to the old nest.
‘For the future is Ajax’s slogan, but that is a mistake. We have seen where the emphasis on the future has brought the club: to the edge of the abyss. The true glory lies in the past, that is the direction it must go otherwise all is lost.’
Ajax are next in action on Thursday when the travel to face AEK Athens in the Europa League before they tackle in-form AZ Alkmaar at the Johan Cruyff ArenA on Sunday afternoon.