ERIK TEN HAG has been confirmed as Manchester United’s new manager for next season.
The Ajax gaffer has signed a contract until 2025 and will be tasked with a seemingly impossible rebuild of a fallen giant.
But the popular Dutch tactician was NOT the first choice among various United legends.
Despite Ten Hag’s excellent work at Ajax, the likes of Gary Neville, Roy Keane and Rio Ferdinand had other managers in mind.
Mauricio Pochettino and Julen Lopetegui have also been linked with the job.
But who exactly are they dying to see installed at Old Trafford this summer?
GARY NEVILLE: MAURICIO POCHETTINO
Due to his role as a TV pundit, Neville was perhaps the most vocal of United’s old boys and sided with Pochettino from the start.
Neville believed the Paris Saint-Germain manager’s experience at Tottenham made him a great replacement for Ralf Rangnick.
And with Poch now coaching big-name stars at PSG while also edging towards a first league title of his career, Neville felt the Argentine would be a perfect fit.
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Neville said last month: “I think he’s better prepared to come and deal with the big players that United have.
“He’s better suited to come in and do what I think he wants to do at a club like United if he’s under scrutiny.
“I think Pochettino is best placed because of what he’s done at Southampton and Tottenham, he knows the Premier League, there’s no shock.”
ROY KEANE: MAURICIO POCHETTINO/DIEGO SIMEONE
Former captain Keane has lamented the lack of fire in United’s bellies this season.
And he urged the Red Devils to break the bank for Pochettino.
However, Keane also felt Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone had the “right character” to shake things up at Old Trafford.
Keane declared last month: ‘If United want Pochettino then get him. I know people will say ‘oh he’s expensive’ but it doesn’t matter, it’s the biggest decision United have had to make in the Years of the Donkey.
“Go get the right man, pay the money whatever it costs.”
On Simeone, Keane added in February: “Maybe Simeone, he’s the right kind of character.
“Simeone, go get him, he’s a great character. He’s done great things. He’s a great character, a great personality.
“He doesn’t mess around with players. Maybe someone like him coming into the club could work.
RIO FERDINAND: MAURICIO POCHETTINO
As one of United’s best centre-backs, Ferdinand was keen for fellow ex-defender Pochettino to reinforce the defence.
However, Ferdinand was also open to Ten Hag’s appointment and won’t be disappointed by the Dutchman’s arrival.
About Poch, Ferdinand said last month: I spent a bit of time with him and he really impressed me as a person.
“I think he would impress the hierarchy and decision makers at Old Trafford if you had him in front of you. He definitely impressed me.”
Referring to Ten Hag, Ferdinand added: “Ten Hag, the way his team plays, if you could replicate that at Man United, now let’s talk.
“But a club the size of Man United with the egos and personalities in that dressing room, it’s very different going to Ajax in that dressing room than going into that dressing room.
“Ajax is a big club but compared to United it’s very different.”
PAUL SCHOLES: ANTONIO CONTE/THOMAS TUCHEL
CHEEKY Scholes reckoned United could lure either Tottenham boss Conte or Chelsea gaffer Tuchel to Old Trafford this summer.
He pointed out that they were both highly motivated winners with a knack for turning over batting teams.
And Scholes reckoned with Conte or Tuchel at the helm, United wouldn’t have to spend millions on newcomers.
He explained last month: “I would have chosen Conte or Tuchel now.
“It might look like him [Tuchel] could be available by the end of the year. These two are top notch elite coaches who I believe scare the players and win which is the most important thing.
“United with one of these coaches would be a much better squad.
“Okay, they need supplements. But I hate when people say they need four or five players or spend £200m or whatever.
“There’s a group of players here that I think could be made a lot better by top-notch, elite coaches.”
NICKY BUTT: MAURICIO POCHETTINO
Having worked behind the scenes at United until last year, Butt knew firsthand what needed fixing.
And his first choice for the role was Pochettino, whom Butt felt would be best suited to bring some much-needed “stability” after Ralf Rangnick’s tenure as interim.
Butt said last month: “United need stability. You can’t keep having interim managers or learners in very powerful positions. You need people who have been there, seen it and done it.
“I would do anything to get Mauricio Pochettino as manager. He’s proven himself in the Premier League, he’s young and enthusiastic, his style of play would suit United and his backroom staff seem turned on.
“I met him a couple of times at Spurs training ground and had lunch. You would want to play for him.”
OWEN HARGREAVES: LUIS ENRIQUE
A LEFT-FIELD approach from Hargreaves saw him as the ideal long-term successor to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The Spanish coach won numerous trophies at Barcelona including the 2015 Treble.
And Hargreaves felt the time was right for United to lure Enrique back into club football.
He said in November: “I think one name that’s not there that I’d like to see is Luis Enrique.
“If you manage a big club like Barcelona and you win the treble there, you can then go to the semi-finals with a pretty average team.
“I think that’s the type of person – and he only manages the national team. He could come in and do the work now.
“I think he would turn Manchester United into a good team, a great team.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/football/premier-league/5170682/man-utd-erik-ten-hag-gary-neville-roy-keane/ Erik ten Hag was NOT the Man Utd legends’ preferred choice as Neville, Keane and Ferdinand wanted Pochettino