Manchester United's long process of finding their next permanent manager drew to a close today with the news that Erik ten Hag is set to take the top job at Old Trafford this summer.
Ten Hag has long been seen as one of the two favourites for the position, beating out competition from Mauricio Pochettino for the gig. The Dutchman has impressed with Ajax over the last number of years, although the task he will be presented with at the Premier League club will be an altogether different one.
Manchester United are badly in need of a rebuild, with the squad looking desperately short on both quality and motivation this season. Major structural changes at board level are also required.
While it is impossible to know whether Erik ten Hag is the man to see this process through, the appointment has been largely well received.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Jamie Carragher said this seemed like a good move from Manchester United. However, he was also quick to point out the size of the task that faced the incoming manager.
He's the guy I'd have gone for. I know it was a toss-up between him and Mauricio Pochettino, I just feel the job he's done at Ajax, and Pochettino, who I'm a huge fan of, has gone to PSG and it hasn't quite worked out. At Tottenham, I absolutely loved them but they couldn't get over the line in terms of getting a trophy...
I'm excited to see him in the league. The two Ajax teams he's built have been really exciting to watch and really lit up the Champions League.
Is the appointment an admission from Man Utd it will take time to get back to the top? I doubt Manchester United are automatically writing off next season or the year after.
They're Man Utd, I'm sure they'll spend big in the summer. You think of the players they've brought in this summer: Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane. They weren't buying these players to compete in the top four, they were going for the title.
People talk about Manchester United changing managers a lot but a lot of managers there have had two or three years. Jose Mourinho had three years, Louis van Gaal was the same, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had two or three, I don't think you can expect more than that out of a manager at a top club anywhere now.
You're not going to get five years unless you're making really good progress year-in year-out. Two years is enough for any manager, if there's no sign of progression it should be changed.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 21, 2022
Ten Hag will be hoping to bring about some drastic and immediate improvements at United, although that will certainly be no guarantee.
While there is no doubt plenty of talent within that squad, very few of them have performed anywhere near their best since arriving at Old Trafford. It is likely a number of them will be on their way out of the club this summer.
As for incomings, the manager is certain to have identified a number of potential targets in the transfer market. A central midfielder and striker will be a priority, while a centre back and winger could also be sought.
Carragher says that ten Hag will have to be brave in terms of deciding on both incomings and outgoings, with immediate improvements likely to be sought from both the supporters and club hierarchy.
He's got to make brave decisions. I've said for a long time in that Manchester United dressing room you've got to take out some of those big names and start from afresh with a new, young, energetic team to try and compete with Guardiola and Klopp.
No one is expecting them to win the title next season but Manchester United shouldn't be in a position where they're fighting for a top-four position. With the money they spend and the calibre of club they are, they should be cemented in the top four, looking to challenge the top two.
It didn't take long for Thomas Tuchel to turn things around when he came into Chelsea. This idea of four or five years to turn a club round, Manchester United don't need that. If they get the recruitment right, get the right manager in, a couple of years at the most they should be challenging for the biggest honours.
It will certainly be interesting to see how Erik ten Hag does at Manchester United.
Considering how difficult the club can be to manage, there is no guarantee of success despite his obvious talents.