Rio Ferdinand believes Ajax manager Erik ten Hag would be the ideal candidate to take the reins at Old Trafford were the club to part with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The Dutch coach has been a revelation in Amsterdam since succeeding Marcel Keizer in 2017, famously guiding Ajax to the Champions League semi-final in 2018/19, winning the previous three Eredivisie trophies to end the club’s four-year title drought, and promoting academy players into the first team.
The likes of Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt, Donny van de Beek and Sergino Dest have all flourished under Ten Hag, who was responsible for promoting from within, while current academy stars Jurrien Timber, Noussair Mazraoui and Ryan Gravenberch are shining at the club.
Solskjaer meanwhile is having difficulties over in England. The Norwegian coach has struggled to piece together a cohesive unit this season, with the club boasting several world class individuals, but looking dysfunctional and out of sorts as a collective, enduring some morale-sapping defeats as a result.
A 5-0 reversal at the hands of Liverpool is arguably the nadir of Solskjaer’s tenure in the Man Utd hotseat, but that performance was matched just a fortnight later as Man City won 2-0 at Old Trafford in a scoreline that overwhelmingly flattered the hosts and prompted Gary Neville to describe it as a “calm annihilation”.
As a result, some fans have started to turn on Solskjaer and the pressure is now beginning to build on the Man Utd boss. Ferdinand has intensified the narrative by namedropping Ten Hag as a possible successor to Solskjaer should the club decide to move in a new direction.
He told his FIVE Youtube channel: “For any manager coming in to a new club, it’s almost like you’ve got to show people why you’re there immediately.
“I use Antonio Conte as a good reference point for that. Whenever he joins a new club, there is no negotiables and he tells them, ‘this is what’s happening, this is what I am – if you’re not with me you can go.’
“I think that’s the type of attitude and the type of mentality that separates the good managers from the top managers.
“You’ve got to be able to go in there and command a whole dressing room full of egos, big personalities, big characters. That’s the job of anyone coming in.
“Now I don’t know Ten Hag personally but he’s doing a fantastic job at Ajax.
“Let’s remember that Ajax isn’t a small club. They’re a massive club – the biggest club in Holland.
“Yes, it’s different and the landscape is different but it’s still a huge club that he’s got to work with and the expectation levels there every day are to win.
“That’s something that will be there every day and would be there if he was to come to Manchester United.
“Anyone who comes in, they’ve got to be able to deal with people. That’s the art of a fantastic manager.”