Home Editor Picks Jaap Stam DENIES reports he’s in talks over a Man United return… as he backs Erik ten Hag to get a third season ahead of FA Cup final with City

Jaap Stam DENIES reports he’s in talks over a Man United return… as he backs Erik ten Hag to get a third season ahead of FA Cup final with City

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Jaap Stam DENIES reports he’s in talks over a Man United return… as he backs Erik ten Hag to get a third season ahead of FA Cup final with City

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Jaap Stam has denied reports that he’s in talks to return to Man United – but admitted he’s more than willing to help out at Old Trafford if called upon.

On Tuesday, Italian publication TuttoMercatoWeb published a story saying contact had been made with Stam over a role that would see him serve as a link between the United technical staff and the club.

But in an exclusive interview with Mail Sport later that night, Stam rubbished those claims.

‘We’re not in talks… I haven’t heard anything about it,’ he said from New York City‘s Smithfield Hall bar.

He continued, ‘Because I’m over here [in the United States]… so I haven’t had any contact with people or whatever.’

Jaap Stam spoke exclusively with Mail Sport at the Smithfield Hall bar in New York City

Jaap Stam spoke exclusively with Mail Sport at the Smithfield Hall bar in New York City

The Dutchman believes his countrymen Erik ten Hag should be given another year at United

The Dutchman believes his countrymen Erik ten Hag should be given another year at United

Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his new United leadership team are weighing up whether to fire Ten Hag

Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his new United leadership team are weighing up whether to fire Ten Hag

Nonetheless, Stam, who recently signed on to coach amateur Dutch side DOS Kampen (his boyhood club), refused to rule out a move to United.

‘If they want me to help them in any way as well, then I’m always ready to do so,’ he said.

Of course, United currently have another Dutchman in their dugout in Erik ten Hag, and Stam believes it would be a ‘wise decision’ to give his countrymen a third season at the helm.

In Ten Hag’s second season in charge, United finished eighth – the club’s worst league finish in 34 years – and registered a -1 goal difference. 

Ten Hag’s man management skills were also called into question as he feuded with Jadon Sancho after publicly calling out his training performances, while the club’s disorganized defense saw goalie Andre Onana face the third-most shots among Premier League goalkeepers.

Nonetheless, Stam believes ten Hag deserves more time – amid the club being linked to Mauricio Pochettino after his departure from Chelsea.

‘If you’re talking about tactics, about how to play football, and what he wants, I think ten Hag is a good manager,’ Stam said. ‘And he knows what to do.’

United limped to an eighth-place finish in the league but could still win a trophy this weekend

United limped to an eighth-place finish in the league but could still win a trophy this weekend

Stam, seen after winning the 1999 Champions League final, was part of United's historic treble

Stam, seen after winning the 1999 Champions League final, was part of United’s historic treble

Aside from United’s inconsistent form this season, ten Hag has faced criticism for the club’s player recruitment. John Murtough led United’s transfers as the club’s football director (the club announced his exit last month), but United has notably signed several players who worked under ten Hag at previous clubs, with Antony and Sofyan Amrabat proving to be major flops.

Stam thinks it’s unfair to put the club’s recent transfer misses solely on ten Hag.

‘The only thing that people may not always know… all the players that come into the club, people always are thinking that’s the manager’s decision,’ he said.

‘That’s not really the truth. The manager can talk about players, of course, and maybe he’s got a voice into decision making, or not always the final decision about bringing players in.’ 

Stam, a three-time Premier League winner and a member of United’s famous Champions League-winning side in 1999, came closest to criticizing ten Hag when the topic of man management was broached.

The former defender wouldn’t say whether ten Hag’s personality was a problem – citing the fact that he wasn’t present in the dressing room – but acknowledged that the trademark bluntness of the Dutch can rub people the wrong way.

‘I think when you go from from Holland, when you go to a different country and different culture as well, you need to change yourself a little bit as well. You cannot always think, ‘Okay, this is how I work in Holland. And this is how I react in Holland,” he said.

‘The Dutch are very direct, yeah, we say what we want to say. It’s not always good. No, it doesn’t help the other person at times, it doesn’t help yourself sometimes as well. Sometimes you need to be maybe a little bit more political as well.’

Whether or not ten Hag remains in charge beyond this weekend, Stam is confident in the team’s chances in Saturday’s FA Cup Final vs. Man City, as he told a crowd of 60-odd United fans during a speaking engagement.

Ten Hag's man management has been criticized in certain corners, though not quite by Stam

Ten Hag’s man management has been criticized in certain corners, though not quite by Stam

Man City bested their rivals in the 2023 final (above). Stam has picked United to win this year

Man City bested their rivals in the 2023 final (above). Stam has picked United to win this year

‘I think [United] are gonna win,’ he said. ‘We all know the quality of City, City have shown that as well,’ he said.

‘From this season… [United] have shown that they can psych themselves up for one game.’

Stam, who previously managed the likes of Reading, Feyenoord and MLS’ FC Cincinnati, may not be long for sixth-tier DOS Kampen: he admitted he’s ‘waiting’ for an offer from the elite ranks to present itself.

Could that come in some form from United?

‘I’m starting over there [at DOS Kampen] within a month and a half in July, he said.

‘But knowing, they know as well, that if I can go somewhere else, that I can leave straight away. So it’s not a job that I signed the contract so I’m stuck to this club, and I cannot go somewhere else.’

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