Erik ten Hag Ajax return likelier than ever after Burnley blowout

The chances of an Erik ten Hag Ajax return have strengthened according to some sources, after a nightmare April for the Dutchman saw United taken the distance by lower-league Coventry in the FA Cup semi finals, before being held to a draw by relegation-tipped Burnley.

Ten Hag, who managed the storied Amsterdam club between 2017 and 2022, is under serious pressure at Manchester United, and with the club’s new INEOS hierarchy closely watching the Dutchman over the final few weeks of the season, a change seems imminent.

Erik ten Hag may be on borrowed time at Old Trafford – Photo by Icon Sport

Why do Ajax want Erik ten Hag back?

To say that 2023/34 has been a tumultuous season for Ajax would be a colossal understatement. The club look set to finish in an unprecedentedly low fifth place in the Eredivisie.

Their transfer business has been disastrous, failing to replace the likes of Mohamed Kudus, Lisandro Martinez and Jurrien Timber adequately.

They were humiliated 4-0 by Aston Villa in the Europa Conference League and have lost 4-0 and 6-0 to arch-rivals Feyenoord.

Off the pitch, supporters have had explosive bouts of violence and disorder, such is their anger. In the boardroom, there has also been a prodigious amount of internal politicking and squabbling.

Erik ten Hag holds the Eredivisie shield
Erik ten Hag was immensely successful with Ajax – Photo by Icon Sport

Ajax badly need to get back on track and reunite the fractured club, and ten Hag could be the man to do it.

The now 54-year-old won four Eredivisie titles in a row and taking the club on their best European run in a generation, reaching the semi-finals by eliminating Real Madrid and Juventus.

Ten Hag is reportedly determined to turn things around in Manchester, so their pursuit is contingent on the Red Devils cutting ties with him. As such, Ajax are also keeping tabs on Graham Potter and Arsenal assistant manager Albert Stuivenberg.

Where has it gone wrong for ten Hag?

This time last season, there was great optimism around ten Hag. 

The Dutchman had won a power struggle with Cristiano Ronaldo, won the League Cup, reinvigorated Marcus Rashford and comfortably finished in the top four. As we approach the end of this season, the mood has turned much darker. 

United are in sixth place, far away from Aston Villa in fourth place. Perhaps most worryingly, the Red Devils are arguably lucky to be as high up the table, as they are ranked an abysmal 15th for expected goal difference.

Ten Hag's signings, such as £86m Antony have failed to impress – Photo by Icon Sport

Ten Hag has demanded patience, citing Mikel Arteta’s slow rebuild as evidence of the ups and downs of restoring a club to greatness, and despite his side’s struggles, described his team as “one of the most dynamic and entertaining teams in the league”.

But with many of ten Hag’s signings failing to deliver this season, faith in the manager is rapidly diminishing at Old Trafford.

William Evans is a football and politics fanatic. A first-class graduate of UEA's Broadcast and Digital Journalism MA course, he also achieved a first class degree in politics and media studies during his time at UEA.