Erik ten Hag has insisted Manchester United will not make the same mistakes as Todd Boehly’s new regime at Chelsea should a takeover be completed at Old Trafford.
United can seal their place in the Champions League with a point on Thursday night against Chelsea, who will finish in the bottom half of the Premier League this season despite spending around £600 million under co-owner Boehly in the post-Roman Abramovich era.
Boehly broke the British transfer record to buy Enzo Fernández from Benfica in January, while Mykhailo Mudryk was signed for £88.5 million but is not starting games and the club is still short of a frontline striker.
United could be under new owners as the Glazers are considering bids from Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim, although Ten Hag believes structures are in place to continue this season’s progress in which they are now on the verge of a top-four finish.
Asked whether Chelsea’s fall down the Premier League table since the Boehly takeover was a warning for United ahead of their expected change of ownership, Ten Hag said: “When there is no strategy or [not] the right strategy, money doesn’t work,” said Ten Hag.
“At this moment a centralization of good players, of the best managers, also the money, is all here in the UK, and that makes a great competition but also a tough and a hard competition. You have to do the right things, you can have money but you have to spend it in a smart way and you need to have a strategy behind it, otherwise the money doesn’t work.”
Ten Hag had successes in the transfer window last summer with Casemiro and Christian Eriksen among his signings to make an impact this season. The club has tried to continue using their existing structure regardless of the takeover uncertainty because they need continuity for next season.
“I think we are in a good direction but we can also learn from this season. We have to make the right conclusions for the future and that is what we will definitely do after the season,” Ten Hag said.
“It tells a lot about this club, where we are or where we were. We stepped up but it’s still a long way to go.”
Meanwhile, David De Gea is waiting for his new contract to be given the final approval from Ten Hag and United before he commits his future.
The Spanish goalkeeper has agreed to the framework of a fresh deal to keep him at the club for at least two more seasons on reduced terms after United did not trigger a one-year option on his current deal.
Ten Hag has consistently supported his No. 1 this season whenever he has made high-profile mistakes, stressing that he has also won the Premier League’s Golden Glove award for clean sheets.
The Dutch coach has a huge say on whether De Gea stays at the club beyond this summer. His existing contract takes him past £350,000 per week when United are in the Champions League, but the new terms involve a significantly lower basic salary with incentivized add-ons.
De Gea’s future is one of a number of key decisions to be made. Ten Hag has placed importance on getting the recruitment right to deal with the increased competition for European places and wants a striker and a central midfielder as a priority.
Chelsea’s Mason Mount is being strongly linked with a move to Old Trafford, although he is also on the radar of Arsenal and Liverpool.
“I think there are many more teams in the Premier League who are really strong,” he added. “Talking about Aston Villa, Brighton, Brentford, I think there are many more teams who are really strong and tough and it’s not only those top-six clubs.
“But there is a summer in between so in the summer a lot of things can happen. At this moment, we know the balance in the league, but over the summer things can change. I want to have players with the right personalities who are outstanding and contribute at the highest levels, that is what we want and what we have to work for.”
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