Erik ten Hag will face instant Man Utd pressure after Louis van Gaal admission
There will be instant pressure on Erik ten Hag when he steps into his role as Manchester United boss, and that’s because of the standards former boss Louis van Gaal set. They both took the job off the back of similar seasons, and Ten Hag has an example to follow.
It won’t be long until Ten Hag lands in the north of England and takes charge of United for the first time, but the pressure will be on for the Dutchman.
It’s been a shocking season from United, but when Van Gaal was appointed in 2014 in the wake of a messy David Moyes departure, the Red Devils were in a similar position. The feel around the club was ‘it can’t get any worse’, but Van Gaal dismissed any myth that the pressure wasn’t on, and it’ll be the same for Ten Hag.
In his very first interview as United coach, Van Gaal was asked if expectation were lower due to their previous season, and he replied: “I don’t think so because when you have to make a club that normally plays from first position, and now you are seventh, then you know the selection is not in balance or is broken, or that the confidence or something like that is wrong.”
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There is certainly a lot to sort out for Ten Hag, and confidence is clearly at an all-time low after United were thrashed 4-0 by Brighton. And the balance in the dressing room is completely off, proving that things still haven’t improved too much since 2014.
Therefore the pressure is on Ten Hag just as much as Van Gaal assigned himself, and the size of the task that United’s former boss placed on himself may be a cause for concern for the incoming Ajax manager. Van Gaal added: “I had to follow Bobby Robson at Barcelona.
“He had won three titles. That was easier for me than now I think. The same with the Dutch squad. It was very difficult to succeed Bert van Marwijk because two years before he was second in the World Cup and then he left a broken selection behind – so that was much more difficult than you think.
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“I was already asked in the ‘90s by Manchester United [if I would join them] because Ferguson wanted to quit at that time and then maybe I could succeed [him]. That was more easy at that time I think.”
Van Gaal’s earlier words summarise the job in hand at United, and due to the time elapsed since his departure, the pressure will have stepped up a notch. With Van Gaal being an icon in Dutch manager, it’s likely that the pair will have been in contact ahead of Ten Hag’s arrival.
But hopefully for the new boss, Van Gaal has offered some friendly words of advice, as he has been rather critical of United ever since he was sacked shortly after winning the FA Cup. Van Gaal was quickly axed and Jose Mourinho was introduced, and the Portuguese boss won three trophies before suffering a similar fate.
Van Gaal actually warned Ten Hag against joining United back in March, as he called them a “commercial club” instead of a “football club.” The Dutchman said: “Erik ten Hag is a great coach and that is always good for Manchester United.
“But Manchester United are a commercial club, so it’s a difficult choice for a coach. He would be better going to a football club. I’m not going to advise him, he’ll call me himself. But he must choose a football club and not a commercial club.”
Ten Hag went against Van Gaal’s warning and put pen to paper, but it’s expected to be a major transaction this summer, with multiple members of the club hierarchy resigning in a major revamp behind the scenes. Ten Hag will also refresh the squad, and he may have better luck now that Ed Woodward is not at the club, as Van Gaal targeted him for his sacking.
“I blame Ed Woodward, my CEO at Manchester United, much more than Mourinho,” Van Gaal told the Een-tweetje met Yves podcast. “In my view, Woodward is the evil genius.”
And he spoke against Woodward in another interview, as he said to Sport Bild: “I am not disappointed with Jose Mourinho. Every coach wants to train Manchester United, it’s one of the biggest clubs in the world.
“What I find wrong is when a CEO says we’re totally happy with you, do not believe the press.” Ten Hag will be full of winning mentality after winning the Dutch title with Ajax, but the new United boss will soon discover just how tough the Premier League can be.
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