ERIK TEN HAG shows the tactical and real-time analysis of Sir Alex Ferguson and is “ready” to take on the Manchester United job, according to Steve McClaren.
McClaren was Fergie’s assistant at Old Trafford between 1999 and 2001, winning the treble in his first few months at the club.
He later had Ten Hag as his own No2 when he joined FC Twente following his infamous spell as England boss.
There, he led the Dutch side to the Eredivisie title – but openly confesses that would not have been possible without Ten Hag’s ability to think quickly during matches.
McClaren told The Telegraph: “His great strength lies not just in his attention to detail and organisation.
“He has a clear philosophy of how he wants to play football, the environment he wants to create.
“Tactically he’s outstanding. He worked with Pep [Guardiola] at Bayern Munich and took in his philosophy too.
“They called him ‘Mini Pep’ out there. He’s ready. A lot of top clubs in Germany and England will be out to get him.
“I would have to sit in the stand to analyse games that way but he can do it from the touchline and initiate changes.
“He was invaluable in my first year. I would not have survived if it hadn’t been for his work and his understanding of the game.
“He’s proved he can do it at the top level at Ajax.
“In terms of changing games, he is second to none.
“He had carried on with that work ethic and he’s a far better coach and manager now. He was way ahead of his time. Even in Holland.
“The only other one I would have seen do that? That would have been the gaffer.”
McClaren continued: “I thought I worked hard until I met Erik.
“The player progression programme was a key part of Twente.
“He has done that at Ajax too, for each player from the academy to the first team.
“You look at Hakim Ziyech and now the [Brazilian] striker Antony, a very good player who will be the next one to go.
“I have seen this Ajax team and it’s very good.
“Erik is very disciplined and people have to buy into that and have that work ethic.”
It was not just Ten Hag’s tactics that helped bring success for McClaren and FC Twente, but also his meticulous preparation for pre-season when the ex-Three Lions boss arrived in 2008.
Speaking about the day he took over at De Grolsch Veste, the former Derby and QPR chief added: “The chairman said, ‘We’d like you to speak to the press but before you do, come and have a chat with your assistant.’
Every last detail was accounted for. Every document ready. Every drinks break planned.
“I knew that pre-season was due to start the next day and I said to Erik, ‘Have you got our first day organised?’
“Over the next two hours he talked me through six weeks of pre-season work.
“Every last detail was accounted for. Every document ready. Every drinks break planned.
“He would say, ‘There is 20 minutes here for you to do your specific session and then we do this.’ I had never seen anything like it before or since.
“For both individuals and for the team the work was the best I had seen.
“The detail was logged even down to what the coaches would be wearing on each day, and that we would all come out together.
“He had planned what equipment had to be carried out and when it had to be brought back in.
“I would occasionally say to Erik during a session, ‘We just need that goal moving to the halfway line.’ and he would ask every player in the squad to do it. All 22 players. Everyone goes. That’s the way he likes it.”
Ten Hag had his first interview with Red Devils chiefs last week.
SunSport understands the Dutchman is the favourite to succeed interim Ralf Rangnick at Old Trafford at the end of the season.
And now the English giants are trying to piece together the appropriate compensation package for Ajax.