Inside Erik ten Hag's first week at Man Utd

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Erik ten Hag’s decision to begin work early at Manchester United contributed to the scrapping of Ralf Rangnick’s consultancy role.

The German confirmed this week that he would not be taking up the two-year deal after being appointed Austria coach.

United described the decision as mutual – but, crucially, they believed they could cope without the German’s transfer expertise after a host of changes implemented by Football Director John Murtough in recent months.

They are also confident they are ahead of schedule due to Ten Hag beginning pre-season planning in early May.

The Dutchman held a meeting with Murtough in Amsterdam on May 12, where they discussed transfer requirements – and then turned his full attention to his new job immediately after his final game as Ajax manager on May 15.

Considering David Moyes famously had to wait until July 1 to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson after seeing out his Everton contract, United’s hierarchy are hopeful Ten Hag has given himself the best opportunity to hit the ground running.

That is seen as a contributing factor to the cancellation of Rangnick’s role – which would have seen the former interim work six days a month on a consultancy basis.

His knowledge of the transfer market was going to be a key part of his duties – but after carrying out an overhaul of their recruitment department, which has seen chief scout, Jim Lawlor, and Head of Global Scouting, Marcel Bout, both depart, it was determined Rangnick’s expertise was less required.

Ten Hag has a strong idea of the players he wants to bring in this summer – with a midfielder and a striker priorities – while he and Murtough are said to be in alignment.

Murtough has also just appointed a deputy in Andy O’Boyle to further strengthen recruitment.

Notably, United have no intention of following Rangnick’s advice that they need as many as 10 new players.

Ten Hag could sign five this summer – believing all departments are in need of address – but he is also confident that a squad that finished second the season before last has far more potential than their performances over the past year suggest.

He was not involved in the departures of Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata this week – but is in agreement with Murtough that a bloated squad was in need of thinning.

Edinson Cavani has also gone, while Nemanja Matic will also leave. Frenkie de Jong is a leading midfield target.

Declan Rice is of long-term interest – but his £150 million ($187m) price tag is likely to rule out a move, with United adamant they will not pay over the odds – while Kalvin Phillips is also under consideration.

Darwin Nunez is strongly admired, as is Jurrien Timber.

Ten Hag is currently on holiday and will return in time for pre-season training on June 27.

His arrival is said to have sent a surge of electricity through the club after he made the point of meeting as many members of staff as possible at Old Trafford and Carrington.

He has been described as the “New Sheriff.”

His first four days in the UK were spent working out of United’s London Mayfair offices before watching the final game of the season against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

As he left the ground – 10 minutes early to catch a flight to Manchester – he would not have known if he would be managing a team in the Europa or European Conference League next season, with United losing 1-0 and requiring results elsewhere to hold on to sixth place.

United staff were struck by how personable the new manager was, with him shaking hands engaging with a number of them as Murtough gave him a guided tour of Old Trafford.

Outside, he took time to meet fans and pose for selfies. It was his first visit to the stadium in any capacity.

He is yet to meet the players.

Ten Hag also made a point of shaking hands with members of the media before his unveiling press conference.

It was a small act – but acknowledgement of how important it will be to get everybody onside in what is such a challenging job.

Of all of Ferguson’s successors, perhaps only Moyes appreciated that, with Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer always keen to keep their distance.

Before heading off on holiday, Ten Hag began house hunting. There will be no repeat of Mourinho’s stint at the Lowry Hotel.

He remains in contact with Murtough, who will be conducting negotiations with targets and agents.

Long-time negotiator Matt Judge will also be involved while he works out his notice before departing the club.

That relationship between Ten Hag and Murtough is seen as critical to United’s success going forward – further underlining why Rangnick’s contribution was no longer required. 

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