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Erik ten Hag delivers brutal Feyenoord verdict ahead of Arne Slot arrival at Liverpool

Erik ten Hag Manager/Head Coach of Manchester United during the Emirates FA Cup Final match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on May 25, 2024 in London, England.
-Credit: (Image: Marc Atkins/Getty Images)


Liverpool has been handed a worrying verdict on Arne Slot's time at Feyenoord — although it will take the warning with a pinch of salt. It comes from Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag.

While Ten Hag has conceded that Liverpool and Slot will be a good fit, he has been unable to resist taking a pop or two at the man set to replace Jürgen Klopp. As well as seizing the chance to point out that his compatriot will be inheriting a less dysfunctional state of affairs, he has questioned the level of praise being afforded to Feyenoord.

The Manchester United boss has not been pulling punches in recent weeks, with his future under increasing scrutiny. Triumph over Manchester City in the FA Cup may yet help him keep his job, but it's a volatile situation, and the Dutchman has felt compelled to be his own fiercest advocate.

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Speaking to Voetbal International (via the Mirror), Ten Hag launched a thinly-veiled jab at Slot. "People have been going overly lyrical about Feyenoord,” he said.

"Feyenoord were steady this year, but not top. PSV Eindhoven were two classes better in all areas. In terms of dominating the ball, in terms of putting pressure, in terms of intensity, you name it.

“[Peter] Bosz and his staff did that top notch, but the rest of the club is also well put together. PSV Eindhoven were better than the rest by such a long distance, even so much better than Feyenoord.”

As it happens, by mentioning factors beyond the head coach, Ten Hag hinted at the reality that Feyenoord is run on a much smaller budget than either PSV or Ajax. In that context, a 'steady' second place is certainly a coaching achievement to be celebrated, especially on the back of a title win last season.

Liverpool was seeking a manager with a track record of overperformance, and Ten Hag's verdict will not shift the belief that Slot fits that bill. Feyenoord finished this campaign 28 points ahead of the Man United manager's former side.

Liverpool.com says: The Dutch are renowned for their direct approach, and Ten Hag was probably just giving his honest opinion. But to an English ear, it comes across as sour grapes, with the Manchester United boss appearing disappointed to no longer be the flavor of the month hailing from the Eredivisie.

Should he hold on to his job at Manchester United, Ten Hag can expect comparisons to Slot to intensify. He almost seems to be trying to get in ahead of that, but Liverpool will have utter faith in its recruitment process, and indeed will be excited to get this new era properly underway.