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3 Observations from Erik Ten Hag’s first interview as Man United manager

The new boss is here…

Manchester United Erik ten Hag Press Conference Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

After the conclusion of the Premier League yesterday, Manchester United announced the official appointment of Erik Ten Hag as the club’s manager for the next season.

Club reporter Pien Meulensteen held an interview session with the Dutchman where he revealed next season’s plans, the team’s mindset and his expectations for this club.

Part 1 of the interview is live on the Manchester United website and the app.

Without stating much of the general things which every manager says in his first interview, we are going to turn our attention to three important observations which can be sourced from ETH’s words:

‘Exciting’

The reporter asked Erik Ten Hag what is his reaction after getting appointed the manager of Manchester United. Erik answered: “I really look forward to doing this job, at this club with a massive history, and we want to restore it where it belongs.”

“I think many [reasons]. First of all, we want to make the fans proud. Second, of course, we are in this moment, the current situation is obviously not that good. It’s a big challenge. I want to build and construct a team who are battling for each other, who are unified and who will get results. Also, we are playing in the Theatre of Dreams. We want to entertain. But in the end, the intention is to play fantastic football. If we can’t play fantastic football, we still have to win.”

The Dutchman already knows that everything depends on him after seeing United’s performances this season and turning around this ‘current situation is obviously not that good’ will be a challenging task.

From Erik’s reply to the question, we can also make out that he is possibly hinting towards an overhaul in the squad. It is clear that he won’t entertain any kind of discontent and individualism in the team but rather wants the team to build up chemistry with each other and play for each other, a thing which has been rare within the squad this season.

Nonetheless, it will be an ‘Exciting’ ride.

Potential - The Key

Although Ten Hag knows a gigantic task of rebuilding United lies ahead still he sounded quite optimistic during the chat when asked about his expectations from the team (both long and short term).

“It’s first, accept the current situation but also know one year ago, this club, this team was second in the Premier League. There’s potential and now it’s up to us to get that out. It’s a process, it will take time but I’m convinced we will come to that point where we get success. We have to work hard and it has to be based on the right philosophy and strategy.”

Ten Hag emphasised the team’s potential to compete and reminded the fans of the past year’s league position. I think we all can agree with ETH on this, both Ole and Rangnick this season didn’t play this team with the correct tactics nor did they have that winning mentality in them. A team having players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani, Paul Pogba, Jadon Sancho and David De Gea is expected to fight till the end with a winning mentality, but honestly, that level of commitment has been pretty absent from the squad this season.

Again, ETH pointed towards new signings. I seriously can’t wait for this window!

Laying foundation to play the ‘United’ way

ETH talked about his expectations and his ideas to return the Reds back to playing the ‘United’ way.

“We don’t have to go over my football. It’s about the Man United football and about the Man United identity and philosophy. I think that you pointed it out: it has to be about attacking football. We have to bring structures in the way of playing, so we can play attacking football.”

“I expect them to fight and give 100 per cent. I already mentioned that only good is [not] good enough – no, not only that. We have to do better and they have to co-operate. They have to be unified, to form a team, and to battle the opponent.”

The first part of the interview concluded with some direct words from the new manager for his players. It is certain that the training is going to get more sweaty from now on as the players must cater to the ‘high demands’.

Earlier in his interview, Ten Hag stated that he is ‘not a dreamer’ and he likes to live ‘by the day.’ Under him, Ajax transformed into an attacking stronghold and he is the kind of manager whose philosophy goes hand-in-hand with the ‘United’ way - the way of attacking football.

‘They have to be unified, to form a team, and to battle the opponent’ - clearly, he reinstated the idea of forming chemistry among the players, a sense of understanding, to believe in themselves and not relying on brilliant individual performances.

Erik Ten Hag is a firm and direct speaker, he doesn't talk in riddles, and if anybody in the club holds an ego, a nice deal of chat is coming his way from the manager himself - that’s what I found of Ten Hag’s character from this interview.