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Given that Erik ten Hag failed the final interview to become Jose Mourinho’s successor at Tottenham last year due to what was described as a lack of charisma, the news that he has spoken to Manchester United over the upcoming vacancy at Old Trafford should not be blown out of proportion.

Spurs noted that Ten Hag’s English was no more than adequate and found it odd that he only intended to bring one coach, Sjors Ultee, with him from Holland when most new managers arrive with their own entourage. Nuno Espirito Santo got the Tottenham job and Ten Hag signed a new contract at Ajax.

You would assume that one of the most astute coaches in Europe has learned from the experience, and Sportsmail revealed earlier this month that Ten Hag is taking advanced English lessons. 

Ralf Rangnick is the current interim manager of Manchester United

Ralf Rangnick is the current interim manager of Manchester United

Erik ten Hag is now favourite to take over as Manchester United boss after being interviewed

Erik ten Hag is now favourite to take over as Manchester United boss after being interviewed

Erik ten Hag (right) is now favourite to take over as Manchester United boss from current interim manager Ralf Rangnick (left) in the summer after being interviewed at Old Trafford

Ten Hag previously missed out on the Tottenham Hotspur job to Nuno Espirito Santo

Ten Hag previously missed out on the Tottenham Hotspur job to Nuno Espirito Santo

Ten Hag previously missed out on the Tottenham Hotspur job to Nuno Espirito Santo

Either way, confirmation that the 52-year-old spoke to United on Monday will only crank up the noise about him now being the outright favourite to take over at Old Trafford in the summer.

United are urging caution over the Ten Hag speculation. Sources insist that a research process overseen by football director John Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher was only completed at the start of this month, allowing initial conversations with candidates to get under way which have now evolved into formal interviews.

They say United are talking to a number of candidates and it is widely known that Mauricio Pochettino, Julen Lopetegui and Luis Enrique are among the other names on the shortlist.

There is, however, a growing acceptance at United that too many stars would have to align for Thomas Tuchel to leave Chelsea while the crisis-hit club are still looking for new owners. 

The current Ajax manager has emerged as a clear favourite ahead of other rivals for the job

The current Ajax manager has emerged as a clear favourite ahead of other rivals for the job

The current Ajax manager has emerged as a clear favourite ahead of other rivals for the job

It may take some time for Tuchel’s future to become clear and United want to have the new man in place as soon after the end of this season as possible.

Pochettino, in particular, has been the main contender alongside Ten Hag ever since United installed Ralf Rangnick as interim boss. However, his odds have drifted in recent days and there is a growing suspicion in the Argentine’s camp that the job is now Ten Hag’s to lose.

At Ajax, meanwhile, the expectation is that their coach will leave at the end of this campaign and could move to England, where he has also previously been linked with Newcastle.

Ten Hag’s work in Holland was always likely to draw attention here, and so too were his connections with Pep Guardiola. 

Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino is also on the Old Trafford shortlist

Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino is also on the Old Trafford shortlist

Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino is also on the Old Trafford shortlist

Ten Hag has previously worked with Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola while the pair were at German giants Bayern Munich, pictured above in a 2013 training session at the club

Ten Hag has previously worked with Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola while the pair were at German giants Bayern Munich, pictured above in a 2013 training session at the club

Ten Hag has previously worked with Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola while the pair were at German giants Bayern Munich, pictured above in a 2013 training session at the club

The two met when they joined Bayern Munich in 2013, Guardiola as first-team boss and Ten Hag as coach of the reserves.

The Dutchman shares the Manchester City manager’s philosophy of attacking, possession-based football. He also sets up in a 4-3-3 formation and likes his team to dominate games.

‘I learned a lot from Guardiola,’ the former FC Utrecht and Go Ahead Eagles manager once said.

‘His philosophy is sensational. What he did in Barcelona, Bayern and now with City, that attacking style sees him win a lot. It’s this structure that I have tried to implement at Ajax.’

Ten Hag made his name in Amsterdam by building a young team from scratch and guiding them to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019, a run that was ended in heartbreaking fashion by Tottenham. 

Ten Hag's reputation has improved greatly in recent years following his work with Ajax

Ten Hag's reputation has improved greatly in recent years following his work with Ajax

Ten Hag’s reputation has improved greatly in recent years following his work with Ajax

Despite selling key stars to European rivals, Ten Hag's has kept the Dutch side competitive

Despite selling key stars to European rivals, Ten Hag's has kept the Dutch side competitive

Despite selling key stars to European rivals, Ten Hag’s has kept the Dutch side competitive

When Ajax sold Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt, Hakim Ziyech and Donny van de Beek, he started building again. The success continued and Ten Hag has now won five trophies in four years, with a third Eredivisie title likely to follow this season.

His profile has inevitably been matched with United and a squad in dire need of reconstruction. His preference for working in tandem with a director of football also fits the bill. Ten Hag was known to have a close relationship with Marc Overmars until the latter left Ajax in disgrace last month.

He is described as a deep tactical thinker and intense, but more flexible than his compatriot Louis van Gaal whose authoritarian approach did not go down well during his time at Old Trafford.

A centre back with FC Twente, De Graafschap and Utrecht, Ten Hag had a modest playing career — winning only the Second Division title and the Dutch Cup. 

United would hope Ten Hag could improve on former United manager Louis van Gaal's tenure

United would hope Ten Hag could improve on former United manager Louis van Gaal's tenure

United would hope Ten Hag could improve on former United manager Louis van Gaal’s tenure

He has also had to battle his fair share of prejudice from critics who mock his accent and disparagingly call him a ‘tukker’, due to the fact he was raised in Holland’s rural East close to the German border in Enschede. One more reason for those English lessons.

Time will tell how Ten Hag’s interview went on this occasion. United will also have to speak to his formidable agent Kees Vos, who negotiated Robin van Persie’s move to United from Arsenal a decade ago and only recently added Guardiola’s brother Pere to his Sports Entertainment Group.

Ajax have indicated they will not stand in Ten Hag’s way and have a good relationship with United through their chief executive Edwin van der Sar, but there would still be compensation to pay in the region of £4million.

For now, though, it remains hypothetical. United say there is a long way to go in this process and there is no front-runner.

The Spurs experience should have taught Ten Hag that this is not done yet.

Source: DailyMail Sports

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