He has helped Manchester United improve this season
Erik ten Hag landed at a Manchester United team that had numerous issues on and off the pitch. Under Ralf Rangnick, the Red Devils had recorded their worst season in terms of goals scored (58) since the inaugural Premier League season in 1992.
In fact, their former star Cristiano Ronaldo mentioned in a recent interview that Rangnick “wasn’t even a coach”.
Meanwhile, Ten Hag was taken by surprise with how poor Manchester United were last season.
“Manchester United didn’t exactly have the fear factor last season,” he noted.
“There was no spirit. I saw no team dynamic in the squad. The mental resilience was very low.
“I saw that as an outsider – and also noticed it in my first weeks at the club.”
Only Manchester City, Barcelona, Juventus and Chelsea have spent more than the 1.36 billion invested by Manchester United between Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure and Ten Hag’s arrival.
In that period, the Red Devils won an FA Cup (2015/16), a Europa League (2016/17), a Carabao Cup (2016/17) and the Community Shield (2016).
“The club has bought an unimaginable number of players in recent years who have not been good enough,” Ten Hag noted.
Read More : Wout Weghorst Manchester United complete loan deal for Burnley striker after Besiktas agreement terminated
Recovering Ferguson’s Manchester United DNA
Ten Hag was quick to make the diagnosis, but he also came up with the antidote.
“I asked ‘how did Manchester United become great?’ And for me, it was about Sir Alex Ferguson,” Ten Hag added.
“His teams excelled in togetherness, collectivity, spirit. You just couldn’t beat them. When we get players, you look at their quality and technical skills.
“But you also look at their mental quality, that mental resilience – and we had to bring that back. Most purchases have been average – and at United average is not good enough. United’s shirt weighs heavily. Only real personalities, who can perform under great pressure, can play here.”
This explains, in part, the radical change that the Red Devils’ transfer policy underwent last summer.
“We needed personalities,” the Dutchman declared.
“That’s why the acquisition of Casemiro was so important. Along with Raphael Varane, we now have a second player who has experience of winning titles.
“Malacia, Martinez, Casemiro, Antony are all fighters, while Christian Eriksen is a technical winner and a great personality. We want the best of the best. Any players we bring to Manchester United must meet the highest standard.”
Sitting bottom of Premier League table on Matchday 2
His first few weeks were anything but easy. After their 4-0 defeat to Brentford, Manchester United went into Premier League Matchday 3 sitting bottom of the table – something that had not happened since 1992.
Ten Hag became the first Red Devils head coach to lose his first two official matches since John Chapman (1921).
However, the former Ajax boss managed to turn the situation around. In 27 games, he has managed the same number of wins that his team registered in 49 games last season.
Meanwhile, with their 3-0 victory over Charlton, he has become the manager who has needed the fewest games to reach 20 wins in the history of Manchester United, as Jose Mourinho needed 31 followed by Louis van Gaal (36), Matt Busby (40), Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (42), Ferguson (45) and Tommy Docherty (68).
After his first 25 games in charge, Ten Hag had a higher winning percentage (72 percent) than the ones Thomas Tuchel (68 percent), Pep Guardiola (56 percent), Mikel Arteta (56 percent), Jurgen Klopp (52 percent) and Antonio Conte (52 percent) had when they kick off their Premier League spells.
In search of a title in his first year
Ten Hag recorded his 300th victory as a coach in the Carabao Cup duel against Charlton. The Red Devils have lost only one of their last 18 official matches.
They are competing for four trophies, as they are fourth in the Premier League, nine points behind leaders Arsenal and they will face Barcelona in the Europa League playoffs.
Manchester United will take on Reading in the FA Cup last 32 and they have already clinched qualification to the Carabao Cup semi-finals, where they will face Nottingham Forest.