The whole Paul Cook will-he-won’t-he saga has dominated the next Sheffield Wednesday manager market ever since Tony Pulis was sent packing at the back-end of 2020.
While the managerial sphere is never short of a twist-and-a-turn, the chances of Cook rocking up at the Championship strugglers now appears pretty remote after it was revealed that he rejected a short-term contract - as reported by The Athletic’s Nancy Frostick.
This led to a natural assumption that caretaker Neil Thompson would remain in charge until the end of the season, however there’s since been a fresh shake-up in the market, with 66-year-old managerial itinerant Henk ten Cate installed as the new favourite for the Owls post.
So, who is he and what’s he achieved?
After spells managing in Holland, Germany and Hungary, 2003 saw Ten Cate venture over to Barcelona as an assistant to fellow Dutchman Frank Rijkaard, who still a relative novice at the time despite a couple of stints in management.
Ten Cate was responsible for the tactical side of the game, and the duo’s arrival kick-started a successful period at the club as they propelled a stylish Barcelona side, which included the scintillating Ronaldinho and the electric Samuel Eto'o, to Champions League glory in 2006, along with a couple of La Liga titles.
Back in 2007 when Avram Grant was unveiled as the surprise, and controversial, replacement to Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, it was Ten Cate who came in as the Israeli’s assistant.
He ruffled a few feathers upon his arrival after he refused to sing an initiation song, as was tradition at the club.
The pair failed to win any silverware but it could have been so different with the unfortunate Blues finishing runners-up in the Premier League, runners-up in the League Cup, and then most painfully of all runners-up in the Champions League.
After Grant was sacked at the end of the season, Ten Crate was told his job was safe, only for Chelsea to go back on their word and axe him too.
It was also reported that he had a huge bust-up with skipper John Terry on the eve of the cup defeat to rivals Tottenham, however he’s since played down the incident, stating it was exaggerated by the media.
Near Miss At Ajax
As a manager, Ten Cate is best known for his Ajax tenure between 2006 and 2007, where he managed the likes of Jaap Stam, Thomas Vermaelen, Ryan Babel, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Wesley Sneijder and Edgar Davids.
Prior to his arrival Ajax had finished a titanic 24 points behind PSV, then despite finishing level on points with the defending champions in his one and only full campaign, his Ajax side agonisingly missed out on the Eredivisie title on goal difference.
On the plus side he managed to lift the KNVB Cup and a couple of Johan Cruyff Shields.
Could Sheff Wed be next in his long list of clubs?
Where else has he managed?
The well-travelled Ten Cate entered into the managerial arena back in the 1990s with Go Ahead Eagles. He held a handful of short-term positions in his homeland over the course of the following eight years, followed by stints in Germany and Hungary.
Since his assistant roles at Barcelona and Chelsea, which sandwich his time at Ajax, it’s fair to say Ten Cate has had a rather varied time in management, during which he’s taken charge of Panathinaikos in Greece - who featured in the Champions League last-16 - in the Middle East at Al-Ahli Dubai, Umm Salal, a successful spell at Al Jazira who nearly beat Real Madrid in the FIFA Club World Cup, and Al Wahda, then over in China at Shandong Luneng, and most recently at Al-Ittihad.
Meanwhile, back in September he was linked with the Netherlands job following the exit of Ronald Koeman, after it was revealed that the country’s Players Council - featuring Virgil van Dijk, Kevin Strootman, Ryan Babel, Matthijs de Ligt and Daley Blind - wanted Ten Cate for the position.
In the end it was former Crystal Palace boss Frank de Boer who got the job.
Ten Cate is hugely experienced, having held a vast variety of managerial positions in different countries, while he was very successful as an assistant at Barcelona, where he won praise for his tactical nous.
He is however, yet to manage outright in England, but history suggests that he doesn’t lack confidence even if that means taking over a club struggling for Championship survival.
In a reply to a question on twitter, journalist Alan Nixon revealed that Ten Cate to Sheff Wed was ‘possible’, with other unconfirmed reports have suggested that the Dutchman is mulling over a short-term contract until the end of the season. Meanwhile, the below tweet makes for interesting reading.
Finally, we’ll leave you with one of his quotes:
“I love the game. I love this game so much since I was a kid. The only toy I had until I was 14 was a ball – until I started discovering girls.”
The below segment is from an interview Henk ten Cate did with Sky Sports in 2014.— The Sack Race (@thesackrace) January 29, 2021
It will be interesting to see if he now takes his own advice amid a reported link to Sheff Wed, whose owner Dejphon Chansiri has already sacked two managers this season... 🪓#SWFC pic.twitter.com/v6JqnHlZuG