17 April 2022

Erik ten Hag ‘has not left yet’, Ajax chief insists amid Manchester United links

17 April 2022

Ajax technical manager Gerry Hamstra has insisted the club are trying to persuade head coach Erik ten Hag to stay in Amsterdam despite expectations that he will soon join Manchester United.

Ten Hag, 52, is believed to be United’s number-one choice to become the permanent successor to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with reports suggesting his appointment could be confirmed later this month.

But, speaking ahead of Ajax’s 2-1 KNVB Beker final loss to PSV Eindhoven on Sunday, Hamstra, who took over from Marc Overmars earlier this year, said there was still a possibility Ten Hag would stay in his job.

We are preparing for two scenarios, Ten Hag might stay or might leave

“There is interest for Erik ten Hag, that is normal. He has done fantastic,” Hamstra told ESPN.

“We hope he stays. We have to stick with the facts, he has not left yet. He still is focusing on Ajax, so do we.

“We did everything possible [to keep him at Ajax]. We were very busy with that. He reacted that he is focusing on Ajax now. Now we are preparing for two scenarios, Ten Hag might stay or might leave.”

The KNVB Beker had been one of Ajax’s two remaining major targets this season – they sit four points clear of PSV at the top of the Eredivisie – but Sunday’s final ended in disappointment.

Ten Hag had refused to answer questions over his links to United when previewing the cup final earlier this week.

“I am at the service of Ajax and will answer questions only about that,” he said. “I am not afraid (to talk about United), but please if you have questions about Ajax or the KNVB Beker I will answer. I will not talk about the future.”

Ajax took a 23rd-minute lead when Ryan Gravenberch scored from outside the box, but, after Noussair Mazraoui had a second Ajax goal overturned by VAR, PSV turned it around with two goals in three minutes early in the second half.

Erick Gutierrez poked home after Ibrahim Sangare flicked on Cody Gakpo’s free-kick and two minutes later Gakpo added a second as he punished some sloppy play from the Ajax defence.

Ajax had chances to level – a Davy Klaassen strike was ruled out for offside after another VAR review – before Dusan Tadic saw his shot come back off a post.

“We made two big mistakes at the beginning of the second half,” Ten Hag said. “We let them counter from one of our attacks and win a free-kick, and then it was 1-1. And we needed to keep Gakpo out wide on the left, and instead he cut inside and scored.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox