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The education of Erik ten Hag – The Athletic

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Erik ten Hag’s family home is in Oldenzaal, a small town about 11 or 13 km from Enschede, not far from the German-Dutch border. It’s one of those places where you can see there’s a bit of money floating around, but people don’t notice.

It is an incredibly peaceful city. You can’t really tell if it’s rush hour on a Monday morning or 3pm on a Wednesday, and you’re more likely to get hit by a bike than a car.

People who come from Oldenzaal tend to stay. They raise families here, they retire here. There are obviously nuances to the place that an afternoon of wandering and chatting with people can’t reveal, but it does feel idyllic enough.

They’re proud of their most famous son, though. When Ajax won their second title in three years under him last May, a group of young boys were there to greet them with a rudimentary roadside fireworks display. He dutifully got out of his car and posed for pictures, then was allowed to go home in peace.

In short, you can understand why Ten Hag still lives in this place and always comes back when not needed in Amsterdam, 100 miles to the west. It’s the perfect refuge from the pressure of the country’s most prominent footballing position, plus perhaps the national team manager. People know him here, but they don’t bother him. This is where he can escape and relax.

He may need the relaxing powers of Oldenzaal more than ever.

Ten Hag has agreed to become Manchester United’s next manager, the latest man tasked with making sense of this monster the manager has asked to do what David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick n couldn’t for.

He has a hell of a job.