Even though ‘his agents held recent meetings with United and he had spent months studying the city, club, and players,’ Manchester United managing hopeful Mauricio Pochettino was caught off guard by Erik ten Hag’s appointment.
On Thursday morning, Ten Hag was named the club’s next manager after agreeing to a three-year contract with the option of an extra year. He will take over at the end of the season.
Before his appointment, the Dutchman had been vying for the job at Old Trafford with Pochettino, with the two considered to be the front-runners. According to reports, Pochettino had not been notified by the club that Ten Hag had emerged as United’s top target and was caught off guard. Before the announcement, United reportedly planned to call Pochettino to inform him that he had been passed over for the position. Pochettino had felt ‘confident’ and the timing of the announcement was ‘awkward.’
The PSG boss’s representatives were reportedly in talks with Matt Judge about possible contract specifics as recently as this month.
Pochettino was optimistic about receiving a proposal, after developing a relationship with the club that dates back to 2018, when he first met Ed Woodward.
In February, reports stated that the majority of United’s players preferred Pochettino to Ajax’s manager.
Old Trafford bosses, on the other hand, never consulted the team about Ten Hag before proceeding with the appointment.
After sacking Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November, United put out feelers to see whether Pochettino was available, but were advised that PSG’s Qatari owners were unwilling to release him from his contract in the middle of the season. United, on the other hand, is alleged to have never spoken to PSG about Pochettino’s possible departure from the Ligue 1 club.
According to reports, the former Tottenham manager’s interview with United was conducted over Zoom and did not go as well as Ten Hag’s.
The Argentine is alleged to have divulged how many players he would be willing to let go at Old Trafford, as well as the expense of overhauling the squad.
PSG is thought to be expecting a large release fee, even though they are going to fire the manager anyhow, whilst Ajax is willing to let Ten Hag depart for roughly £2 million.
The French club was said to be demanding up to £10 million in compensation for the prospective loss of their manager, but their resolve weakened following their Champions League defeat to Real Madrid, and they are believed to have settled for £5 million.
PSG knew they could save money by letting Pochettino go rather than paying the £17 million cost of dismissing him.
However, neither United nor the French giants wanted to be the first to make a move for fear of handing the other the upper hand, and Pochettino felt he couldn’t push for the move since it would put him in a weakened position when it came to negotiating his contract with the Red Devils.
United was also concerned that Real Madrid would steal PSG’s manager from under their noses.
Even though his club is on set to win the French title from Lille, Pochettino’s future at Parc des Princes is unknown.
The 50-year-old was under pressure this season to win the Champions League, but his team was eliminated in the last 16 by Real Madrid.
Ten Hag is said to have torn the club’s structure apart, focusing his criticism on United’s scouting and recruitment policies.
Despite their initial shock, the United executives were not put off by Ten Hag’s forthright evaluation; instead, they were pleased by his raw honesty, and he became their top choice.
For the role in the Old Trafford dugout, Ten Hag beat out a final shortlist of four managers.