With Erik ten Hag, happiness finally back at Manchester United? / Premier League / J34 / Arsenal-Manchester United / SOFOOT.com

In the pipes for several months and without much surprise, Manchester United officially announced last Thursday the arrival of Erik ten Hag, current coach of Ajax Amsterdam, on the bench. Red Devils from next season. Beyond recovering the place of Ralf Rangnick, the 52-year-old Dutch tactician will have the difficult task of succeeding where all his predecessors have broken their teeth for nine years and the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson: to make Manchester United shine again.

“Manchester United are delighted to announce the appointment of Erik ten Hag as first-team manager, subject to obtaining a work visa, from the end of the season until June 2025. , with an optional additional year. » It is with these words that fans of Red Devils discovered the news this Thursday at lunchtime. Ralf Rangnick, poached in the fall of 2021 to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjær, had quickly decided to do only an interim until the end of the season before gaining height in a tailor-made (or phantom?) post of technical consultant. the board de MU therefore had the time to work on serious and qualitative tracks in order to appoint a coach up to the ambitions of the club. And the choice fell on Erik ten Hag, target number one, who will therefore leave Ajax Amsterdam after five years of top flight punctuated by two titles of champion of the Netherlands (and probably a third in a few weeks), two national cups, a Dutch Supercup and above all a Champions League semi-final in 2019 after an exceptional career that left scars for Real Madrid and Juventus. A daring choice on the part of the coach, who ventures into minefield.

Manchester United, theater of nightmares for coaches

While Manchester United, like Arsenal with Arsène Wenger, was an exception for several decades by trusting a single manager for 27 years, Sir Alex Ferguson in this case (from 1986 to 2013), the situation has changed a lot since then. In nine years, eight managers will therefore have succeeded each other on the bench of Red Devils (David Moyes, Ryan Giggs, Louis van Gaal, José Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, Michael Carrick, Ralf Rangnick and therefore Erik ten Hag), three of whom were only temporarily (Giggs, Carrick and Rangnick). A proof of the instability and the persistent fog in Manchester since the retirement of Ferguson, but also of the scourge parasitizing a club which has more difficulty in rebuilding than in destroying the careers of its coaches. A well-known fact in France, with Paris Saint-Germain reserving the same fate for most technicians on their bench since the arrival of QSI in 2011, except that the French club still had more positive results.

A sad record that could have cooled Ten Hag, just like Van Gaal’s advice, but “the Little General”, a nickname he earned during his season on the Go Ahead Eagles bench in 2012-2013, sees it rather the challenge he always dreamed of: joining a big club to prove his worth. “I am very excited about the challenge ahead of mehe confessed in the press release of his appointment published on the club’s website. I know the history of this great club and the passion that drives its supporters, and I am absolutely determined to build a team capable of gleaning the success they deserve. » And the Batavian has arguments to plead his case.

Erik, it’s classy

Much more than his results with Ajax or the few nuggets revealed under his mandate (Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong, Ryan Gravenberch…), Ten Hag denotes by his style, more obsessed with victory and efficiency than light and glory. “Already in my time, after our matches, in the bus, he watched videos of the next opponentexplained Marnix Kolder, captain of the Go Ahead Eagles when Ten Hag was on the bench, in a portrait dedicated to the Dutch coach and published in March in SoFoot. The next day, he would point out the things I hadn’t done well. I was already 30 years old, but it was the first time that I felt what it took to become a real professional footballer. » A diehard who, if we had to compare with two of his future rivals, would be closer to Jürgen Klopp than to Pep Guardiola. “We often compare him to Guardiola, but he borrows a lot from Kloppabounded Blaise Nkufo, top scorer in the history of Twente, where Ten Hag served as assistant from 2006 to 2009. The high pressing, the six seconds to recover the ball imposed by the gegenpressing, all these are practices that I found from the first day with Ten Hag in Twente. » Tactical sessions that can sometimes last for hours, but with a particularly effective performance and which a Manchester United will need in distress for several seasons, its results relying too much on its individualities (cf. the current season with Cristiano Ronaldo).

While he has not yet set foot in Carrington, the training center for Red Devilsin the shoes of manager of the club, Ten Hag already has several supporters like Fred. “He’s a world-class coach who will help us a lot here. I watched Ajax and they are a great team that play good footballdropped the Brazilian international to Premier League Productions a few hours after the news. The priority is to improve, develop, keep fighting and fight for trophies. We need to get back to being the huge club that is Manchester United and we know the new manager is going to help us get back on track. » And if he has not yet been dubbed by Sir Alex himselfthe hope of finding the heights has never been so strong among MU fans, who will not have had the pleasure of seeing their team win the Premier League for a decade next year.

By Fabien Gelinat

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