Manchester United have hired Erik ten Hag to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was sacked in November last year while Ralf Rangnick was appointed as interim coach until the end of the season
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Former Manchester United stars Patrice Evra and Carlo Tevez have reopened the debate over whether Antonio Conte should have been hired at Old Trafford, a view that has been dismissed by another legend in Gary Neville.
The Italian was on the market when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked back in November after a string of poor results. The Red Devils appointed Ralf Rangnick on an interim basis, instead, while Tottenham moved in for Conte – who had won the Serie A title with Inter Milan the season before, breaking Juventus’ nine-year winning streak in the process.
The results were startling with United continuing to falter at an alarming rate while Spurs pulled themselves out of a rut to remarkably finish in the top four ahead of Arsenal. Erik ten Hag has since been appointed at Old Trafford but there is a tinge of regret from some former players who would have loved to have seen Conte in the hotseat.
That includes Evra, who exclusively spoke to Mirror Sport about his view on the matter, saying “It hurts my heart. “Because I think Conte, Klopp, Guardiola – all those managers are the best in the world right now and we could have had him at Manchester United.
“But some people at the club, they said: ‘It’s not our style, it’s not what we’re looking for.’ So let’s see, now we have Erik ten Hag. Let’s see what he’s going to do. He has my support. But then, even if you brought a chef in, as the manager of Man United, he’d have my full support. “
Tevez added his voice to the debate when he was appointed as Rosario Central manager this week, admitting that one of his biggest inspirations is Conte, who coached the former United star at Juventus.
“I have a great reference who was Conte at Juventus, he was one of those who taught me the most as a player,” he said. “I’m going to try to get the team to play at least a little bit, or half the way his team played.”
While both count Conte among the best managers in the world, Neville would not have had him at United – precisely because of what Evra mentioned about the wrong kind of style at the club.
Just last month the Sky Sports pundit insisted that the former Juventus and Inter boss is not the right fit at Old Trafford. He said after Spurs clinched a Champions League spot: “He’s done a brilliant job at Tottenham, he’s been assisted by the capitulation of Manchester United and the fall of Arsenal but he’s done a good job and was always going to.
“I’m very clear that he is not the right manager for Manchester United but you can say someone’s not the right manager for your club but he ‘s still a great manager.
“The others have got Tuchel, Conte, Klopp and Guardiola – they’re animals, they win trophies all the time. They stand on the touchline and can almost eat you alive with their presence and aura. The rest have a long way to go . ”
Neville’s view was first established all the way back in October when the knives were out for Solskjaer and the end was in sight. “Conte won’t be the manager at Manchester United I do not think,” said the United legend during an Instagram Live.
“I do not think they’ll go for that option, personally. He’s a great manager but I think certain managers fit certain clubs and I do not think Conte fits United personally. As I say, great manager but does not feel right for me that one. “
Whether United might regret not pursuing Conte more when the opportunity arose remains to be seen with Ten Hag yet to be given a fair crack at the job. However, what is definitely true is that Tottenham have benefitted hugely from that decision while they continue to reap the rewards in the transfer window.
Playing under the fiery Italian is a huge bonus for many players, who see him as a trophy-magnet after league titles with Juventus, Inter and Chelsea. At United, they are struggling to make signings with the likes of Jurrien Timber, Frenkie de Jong and Ruben Neves all linked.