New Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has called a vital planning meeting in Amsterdam for today as his Old Trafford reign gets underway.
And intriguingly, Sportsmail understands that Steve McClaren was summoned to Holland as part of the talks – a major indication that the former England boss is closing in on a return to United under Ten Hag.
After watching Ajax crowned Eredivise champions on Wednesday night, Ten Hag has wasted no time in planning for next season with United.
Erik ten Hag held his first meeting as Man United boss as he discussed strategy in Amsterdam
Steve McClaren, who is set to become his assistant boss, was also summoned to the meeting
United’s director of football John Murtough was another name understood to be present
The Dutch coach led a strategy meeting – that included his long term assistant Mitchell van der Gaag and a member of staff from United’s recruitment team – understood to be football director John Murtough.
But the inclusion of McClaren at the summit provides a major clue that the highly-respected coach will be part of United’s new-look backroom team next season.
Ten Hag wants McClaren – who worked succsssfully under Sir Alex Ferguson – to be part of his set up, but the club have so far fallen short of announcing his appointment.
But the fact he has been called to the meeting in the Dutch capital suggest that the 61-year-old is poised to return to the club he famously helped win the Treble in 1999. McClaren worked with Ten Hag during the Englishman’s first season at FC Twente in 2008-2009 – with the Dutchman working as the Englishman’s assistant.
McClaren (R) knows United well having spent three years as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant
Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong was among the players discussed at the meeting
But the roles are now set to be reversed as they ploy a reunion at United. It is understood that potential transfer targets were discussed at the meeting, with Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong – who worked with Ten Hag at Ajax – believed to be one of the players on United’s radar.
Indeed, the midfielder area is one Ten Hag is keen to strengthen this summer, particularly given the expected exit of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic on a free transfer.
Ten Hag worked as No 2 to McClaren at FC Twente in 2008 and he has been heavily linked to the role working alongside the Dutchman in a move that would see him return to Old Trafford after more than two decades.
McClaren has knowledge about United as well as the Premier League having managed Middlesbrough and Newcastle – and would help Ten Hag combat his lack of experience in the English top flight.
Ten Hag signed his Ajax career off with a trophy after delivering his side the Eredivisie title
Ten Hag thanked the players and fans after wrapping up the title in his last home game at Ajax
Edwin van der Sar gave Erik ten Hag an emotional tribute after Ajax sealed the Eredivisie title
It comes after Ten Hag was given a send-off following his final game at Ajax, which saw his side clinch the Eredivisie title.
Former United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar – now Ajax chief executive – hailed his achievements and impact at the club and wished him luck at Old Trafford.
‘Erik.. sometimes I thought “you are a weird man”. But you surpassed all expectations,’ Van der Sar told Ten Hag after the match. ‘Dominant football, semi-final Champions League, league titles.
‘You will leave for a club that is close to my heart. I wish you all the best there. Thank you, Erik ten Hag!’
Van der Sar revealed on the day Ten Hag’s appointment at Old Trafford was confirmed that Ajax were reluctant to lose their manager.
The 52-year-old’s appointment as United manager was confirmed by the club last month
‘Four and a half years is a good amount of time, but we would have liked to have kept Erik at Ajax for longer,’ he said.
Ten Hag won three Eredivisie titles, two KNVB Cups and the Johan Cruyff Shield, and oversaw Ajax’s stunning run to the semi-finals of the 2018-19 Champions League, in his four-and-a-half years in charge of the club.
United also congratulated Ten Hag for his latest triumph in a statement on its official website. ‘Off the back of the Dutchman’s latest success, we look forward to welcoming Ten Hag to Old Trafford next season,’ United said. ‘Congratulations, Erik!’