ERIK TEN HAG stunned Manchester United into giving him the manager’s job following a brutal assessment of the club.
Erik ten Hag did not hold back in his brutal assessment of the club in his Man Utd interviewCredit: Getty
Only now can SunSport reveal the incredible detail of that meeting as the straight-talking Dutchman gave the United chiefs a no-holds-barred dressing down.
Both Fletcher and Murtough flew back to Manchester in complete shock after Ten Hag laid bare exactly what he feels is wrong with United.
One high-placed Old Trafford source said: “It was like United were being interviewed by Ten Hag rather than the other way round.”
Red Devils chief executive Richard Arnold has since flown to the Dutch capital for a one-to-one meeting of his own with the man he hopes can rebuild the fractured fallen giants.
Ten Hag is said to have “ripped the United set-up apart” criticising mainly the scouting and recruitment policy.
The club has spent around £1billion on new players in the nine years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired but is in a worse state now than during the last three decades.
United officials initially took a few days to digest what Ten Hag told them but concluded that, rather than be put out, they were impressed by his frank assessment and his vision for the club.
As revealed by SunSport, the club had already made him their No 1 target after an in-depth dossier was compiled on all the top candidates for the United job.
That included Paris Saint-Germain and former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino. Ten Hag does not want the overall power that the likes of Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho craved.
His interview made clear, however, that he believes the set-up behind the scenes needs a shake-up.
While both meetings with Ten Hag were face-to-face, Poch’s was conducted on Zoom and things did not go as well.
The French giants have since complained to United about the public courting of their manager, even though he was not their first choice.
Pochettino spoke about how much money would be needed to overhaul the squad, many of which he was ready to let go.
PSG also wanted to hold out to get a more substantial release fee for a manager they look ready to sack anyway.
Ajax, in the meantime, are quite happy to negotiate and allow their manager to leave for a fee of around £2million.
United are likely to miss out on the Champions League and maybe even European football altogether.
And that could severely hamper the club’s spending power this summer.
They have faith, however, that Ten Hag can get the best out of what is already a talented, if under-performing, squad.
One that is slipping down the Premier League.
Interim boss Ralf Rangnick took over following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking in November and has since presided over only eight wins in 17 Premier League games.
That makes him United’s worst manager in the Prem era — with a win percentage of just 47 per cent.
Dissatisfaction among the fanbase is growing to the extent that another planned protest march on Old Trafford is being organised for tomorrow’s home clash against rock-bottom Norwich.
One win in their last five league games has left United in seventh, six points behind Tottenham in fourth place — the final Champions League qualification spot.
The Red Devils’ last-16 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last month meant they are now going to be without a trophy for a fifth successive season.
Ten Hag’s Old Trafford arrival will make it five permanent bosses since Ferguson retired in 2013 — adding to David Moyes, Van Gaal, Mourinho and Solskjaer — to go with two caretakers in Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick plus the interim Rangnick.
The club knows this summer’s appointment is the biggest decision in their most recent history.
United are set to announce the arrival of Ten Hag before the end of this season but not ahead of Sunday’s Dutch Cup final between Ajax and PSV Eindhoven.
They are also in a title race with PSV, who they lead by four points with five games to go.
If they were to win the Eredivisie it would be a third in succession under Ten Hag.
A man now charged with landing United’s first since Sir Alex bowed out.
Someone who knows what needs to be done — as he told United’s hierarchy out in Amsterdam in no uncertain terms.