• Harry Dimond

FRESH START: How would Erik ten Hag change Manchester United?


It looks certain that Ajax Manager Erik Ten Hag will become the next Manchester United manager and become the fifth manager at the club following Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure in 2013.


With Manchester United fans desperately calling for the right man to takeover will they succeed in the fifth attempt of trying? We look at how the 52-year-old Dutchman would change United.


His Philosophy and Success


There is no disputing that what Ten Hag has done at Ajax is nothing short of an excellent job, Two domestic doubles and a semi-final placed campaign in the 18/19 champions league season is something that any club would be happy with, and Ten Hag is clearly flourishing in not just the Netherlands but also on the big stage in Europe.


With United’s current mentality at the club, they need someone to come in and rekindle the true Manchester United winning way.


So how could Ten Hag change United for the better?


Well, it’s no surprise that he has worked with some great figures in the footballing world, a main one being Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola as the two worked in close quarters at Bayern Munich from 2013-15, so he might have picked up a thing or two from the Spaniard and brought that into his own philosophy as a football manager.


Every footballing fan knows Pep loves playing a 4-3-3 and that is what Ten Hag has used over his tenure at Ajax most frequently and is an important reason into Ajax’s success over his time at the club.


Also, this won’t be the first time Ten Hag will be working close to Manchester United figures as he was assistant to treble-winning assistant manager Steve McClaren at Twente.


He is known for changing the mentality at clubs very quickly and this first came into place in his first managerial role at Dutch side Go Ahead Eagles, as he ended a 17 year wait for the Eagles to play in the Eredivisie by achieving promotion in 2013 and fans will tell you now, it was down to only one man. Ten Hag.


Manchester United is on a completely different level of reputation compared to the Dutch teams but by changing a mentality so quickly at a club, having this experience of the change In mentality will give United fans at least some knowledge of what he can do.


He’s a manager who is wanting everything to be perfect so if he is to be appointed as the new manager he would not shy away from any rash decisions and would do whatever it takes to find the perfect recipe for success, this could be by selling/dropping big names at the club who he feels doesn’t work with his philosophy, which former managers at the club have struggled with in the past.


For example, Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba, by not working under his philosophy may have had a big affect on the mentality at the club and resulted in Mourinho getting the sack.


It has been known that Ten Hag is an innovator and is intent on raising standards at any club he works with and will change any sort of tactic to make it better for the club.


Former Go-Ahead Eagles midfielder Sjoerd Overgoor said that “His big quality was that he knows how to change it to become better” this came after they found their true style of play being in the 4-3-3 formation.


Ten Hag is known for developing players in the Netherlands and with Ajax’s impeccable youth system he has developed the likes of Jurrien Timber, Ryan Gravenberch, Donny Van De Beek and many more, and with some of these players linked to the club, and Van De Beek already there he could continue their development but also help rejuvenate careers.


English Football and the Long-term project


Any manager knows coming into English football is a difficult task but coming into a disheartened Manchester United team is a different ball game. Ten Hag has done it in the Netherlands and shown his quality in Germany but with the standards at the club and the English game being so different in comparison will his tactics shine in England?


All we do know is that he will need time, which arguably managers in the past haven’t got, for example David Moyes, who has done an incredible job with West Ham United in his second spell being able to get them into Europe and that is because the board has given him time whereas the United board failed to do this which began the long period of sackings to four managers.


With this difficult task at hand Ten Hag will know this is a long-term project to get United back to where they want to be and will ultimately need time to succeed. With the right players, the philosophy and the time given, Ten Hag could bring back that feeling around Old Trafford and make United what they once were again.