Tribal Football

Hake, Van Nistelrooy & De Ligt? Why Ineos' commitment to Man Utd boss Ten Hag now at full throttle

Hake, Van Nistelrooy & De Ligt? Why Ineos' commitment to Man Utd boss Ten Hag now at full throttle
Hake, Van Nistelrooy & De Ligt? Why Ineos' commitment to Man Utd boss Ten Hag now at full throttle
Hake, Van Nistelrooy & De Ligt? Why Ineos' commitment to Man Utd boss Ten Hag now at full throttleAction Plus
COMMENT: It's getting closer, but Rene Hake was back on the training pitch at Go Ahead Eagles on Friday. The move to Manchester United is now days, if not hours, away. But Hake is only focused on the task at hand...

"I owe it to them," he told local reporters, as Go Ahead Eagles kicked off preseason early with a Europa Conference League qualifier against SK Brann of Norway to navigate from July 25. But Hake also wasn't playing coy. The Dutchman happy to acknowledge that his move to United was not only close, but also - for him - front of mind.


"Yes, a great opportunity," Hake confirmed to the waiting gaggle of pressmen. "Really, a no-brainer."

And while committed to carrying out the first days of preseason with his current squad, the Dutchman also conceded: "It's not in the back of your head, but in your forehead."

Indeed, those inside Go Ahead Eagles say they're now waiting for an email from United to confirm they'll be meeting the escape clause in Hake's contract. "A couple of hundred thousand euros", will be needed to buy out Hake's deal and ferry him to England.

And with that, a shift - a major shift - will occur at Manchester United. Hake. Ruud van Nistelrooy (we'll get to him in a sec). These are ground-breaking actions. Two managers, fresh from the Eredivisie, now to become part of a star-studded backroom team? It's unheard of. It's never-before-seen stuff. United are acting like, well, United. At least like the myth, the legend, that this club evokes. This column has had plenty to say  about (and criticise) Sir Jim Ratcliffe. But if these are the actions of Ineos when they're actually committed...? Then let's see more of it.

As we say, it'll be a race this week to see who gets through the Carrington gates first. Van Nistelrooy, 219 games as a United player. 150 goals. The former PSV Eindhoven coach was preparing for a new round of talks with Alan Pace, the Burnley chairman, last week. The American had effectively settled on Van Nistelrooy as Vincent Kompany's successor. And the Dutchman was keen. A style of football. The style of player they should bring in. It had all been discussed between the pair. Pace was impressed. Enamoured. And for Van Nistelrooy, the feeling was mutual...

But then came a call from Ten Hag. Dutch sources stating it was the United manager, as it was with Hake, who drove this move. Ten Hag selling Van Nistelrooy a vision and a project that the 47 year-old found irresistible. By midweek, the Burnley move was off and representatives were in negotiations with United about the former centre-forward's return.

Two appointments. Two massive moves. Pulling one coach away from a club he'd just guided into Europe. The other from a team regarded favourites for Premier League promotion. This is United living up to their billing. Matching their reputation. And most importantly, backing their manager to the hilt.

As we say, if this is Ineos being committed to a project? To a manager? Then for United fans, it's worth being excited. The new contract extension is still unsigned, but it does appear Ten Hag has been granted the backing to work towards the long-term - and target best of breed.

Further evidence is United entering talks with Bayern Munich for Ten Hag's former Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt. Solid sources across Europe now confirming United have opened negotiations with Bayern for the defender. Throw in comments from Marcus Rashford's camp committing his loyalty to Ten Hag and appreciation of the support from his manager - and it's fair to say it's been a good week for the Dutchman. Those claims of Ratcliffe only wanting a 'yes man' in the dugout appearing more and more wide of the mark. Just as, after some ringing around, are those rumours of Hake and Van Nistelrooy being exclusively Ineos hires and a threat to Ten Hag.

Of course, there's still much for Ratcliffe and co to prove. And those first squad additions will be telling. But the movement around Old Trafford in recent days has been more, much more, than promising. Backing the manager. Giving him the freedom to choose with whom he wants to work with. And all with that headline-making touch which epitomises Manchester United. They are acting like a proper football mover-and-shaker.  

And beyond that. Not since the end of season 2022/23. The club now appears - finally - united. All rowing in the same direction. All showing the same ambition. And all committed to eachother. For Manchester United fans, after this week, the message surely is: more of this, please...