ten Hag: No 'risk' to come to Manchester United
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Erik ten Hag once took a pop at his old mentor Pep Guardiola while in charge of Ajax but his criticism shows that Manchester United have got the right coach in charge. The two coaches worked together at Bayern Munich before the Dutchman delved into management himself.
Back in 2020, Ten Hag was full of praise for Guardiola when asked how his old mentor was getting on in the Premier League. City had just missed out on the title after Liverpool won their first in 30 years.
It is the only one that City have not won in five years as the Catalan coach exhibits his control over English football. However, Ten Hag revealed that Guardiola made one mistake – underestimating the Premier League in his first year in charge when City finished third.
“Only once in his career has Pep made a mistake – in his first year at Manchester City when he completely underestimated the power and speed of the Premier League,” Ten Hag told Voetbal International. He realised that you can’t play the kind of football he loves without having a couple of physically strong athletes – and so he brought them in.
“So he’s not a stubborn coach. Yes, he is stubborn in his philosophy, but not in the execution. And that makes him the best. Nobody will ever forget Guardiola.
“He has won so many trophies for a start – but it is mainly about how his teams play. Guardiola only wants to win games with beautiful football, just like his teacher Johan Cruyff.”
While Guardiola might have misunderstood the intensity of the Premier League, that will clearly not be a problem for Ten Hag, who identified that as early as two years ago. As he prepares to take on the United job, that can only be good news for their fans.
After five years at Ajax, the Dutchman has established his own style of football that is easy on the eye and is dedicated to an attacking style. And the 52-year-old is wasting no time after already arriving at Old Trafford to introduce himself to the squad.
There are also transfer plans afoot with moves for Ajax pair Jurrien Timber and Antony on the cards. That might not be the only reunion with Barcelona star Frenkie de Jong also on United’s shortlist.
The Netherlands international became a world-renowned star under Ten Hag’s watch when Ajax reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2019. While it might be a long shot to consider United title contenders, this could be the first right step that the club have taken in years.
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