Eric Ten Hag believes Manchester United can not only compete with Liverpool and Manchester City, but also end the recent domestic dominance of Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. Ten Hag becomes the second Dutch manager (after Louis Van Gaal) to take over at Old Trafford, and the seventh in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, following David Moyes, Ryan Giggs, Louis Van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Ole Solkjaer, Michael Carrick, and Ralf Ragnick. Will he back up his words, as Jose Mourinho did when he first arrived in English football, or will he suffer the same fate as former Manchester United managers?Embed from Getty Images
Ten Hag background
Ten Haag’s first job in management was with Go Ahead Eagles in 2012 earning promotion to the Eredivise for the first time in 17 years in his maiden season at the club.
Whilst Pep Guardiola was in charge of Bayern Munich he drafted in Eric Ten Hag as reserve manager. in 2013. He ended up winning the Regionalliga Bayern.Embed from Getty Images
Replaced by Heiko Vogel in 2015 he would then become Sporting Director and Head Coach for Utrecht shortly afterwards. He led the club to a fourth placed finish in his final season (2016/2017) which meant they had qualified for the Europa League qualifiers.
Eric Ten Hag replaced the dismissed Marcel Keizer in December 2017. He won 3 Eredivise titles, 2 KNVB and a Johan Cruff Shield. He also guided Ajax to the 2019 Semi-Finals of the Champions League only losing out to that last-minute Lucas Moura goal in the last 10 seconds of the second leg at the Johan Cruff arena. His Ajax team certainly had a memorable campaign, thrashing holders Real Madrid 4-1 at the Santiago Bernabeau Stadium in the last 16 and defeating Juventus 3-2 in the quarter-finals.Embed from Getty Images
As you all know I love my statistics. At Go Ahead Eagles he had a 49% win rate, at Bayern II he had a 67% win rate, at Utrecht he had a 50% win rate and finally at Ajax he had a 74% win rate. On average that gives him a career standing of 64%. This could be seen as encouraging for Manchester United fans as every time the 52-year-old had to take a step up the managerial ladder he has.
Eric Ten Hag’s style (influenced by Pep Guardiola) is possession-based football played in a 4-3-3 formation with a double pivot sitting in front of the defensive four but supporting the attacking quarter ahead of them in attacking transitions. His tactics, however, are variable, as he has occasionally shifted to the 4-2-3-1 formation. Consider Ajax’s 2018/2019 Champions League campaign, which included Lasse Schone and Frankie De Jong in front of a back four consisting of Nicolas Taglialico, Daley Blind, Matthijs De Light, and Mazraouri. Van Beek, Neres, Ziyech, and Tadic were his final four attackers. To say the least, that is a fluid attack.
Whilst managing Utrecht he did use the 4-4-2 diamond shape where the number 10 drops deeper enabling the two number eights to go wider.
This seems to me that Eric Ten Hag will adopt the 4-3-3 formation right away in his first season, assuming that at least ten players leave. If that is not the case, he will tailor his methods to the players he already has as well as those he has signed.Embed from Getty Images
Manchester United departures and potential arrivals
As I said before there are at least ten players rumoured to be heading for the exit door at Old Trafford.
Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, and Edison Cavani are set to become free agents next month.
Other names such as Dean Henderson, Lee Grant, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Aaron Wan Bissaka, and Anthony Martial are likely to be leaving too.Embed from Getty Images
There have been no arrivals yet, but future arrivals are the next best thing. Manchester United’s end-of-season ceremony has been cancelled due to their embarrassment this season, and Ten Hag skipped Ajax’s end-of-season ceremony as well in order to begin his work early, so it is safe to assume that arrivals will be completed early this summer in order to hit the ground running next season.
Here is what I think Manchester United’s squad will be for next season:
Substitutes bench: Johnstone, Telles, McTominay, Ronaldo, Van Beek, De Ligt & Mazraoui
This transfer window will be different from previous ones since it has demonstrated that just because you are English does not imply you are worth the additional tax that is applied to your already inflated value. There will be no household names added, but there will be players who are young and talented enough to fit into the Ten Hag system and thrive under the tutelage of seasoned champions like Ronaldo, De Gea, and Varane. A balance of youth and talent is the key to success, so don’t be surprised if some academy players are added to the mix, as Manchester United has done for decades.
What are your thoughts? Can you see Erik Ten Hag overcoming Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola?
In our other story find more about the victors in Premier League 2021/2022 Awards.