Erik ten Hag worked under Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich for two years and he might find these tips useful when he takes the hot seat at Manchester United this summer
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Ten Hag will succeed Ralf Rangnick as United boss at the end of the season. He will move to Manchester from Amsterdam to take on a huge rebuilding job at Old Trafford, where Guardiola will become his main rival First League.
The 52-year-old Dutchman will have a big task ahead of him as Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Edinson Cavani are set to leave the club on a free transfer while many others face uncertain futures. United are on the verge of ending their fifth straight season without a silverware and Ten Hag is expected to turn the tide very quickly.
As a former United defender Rio Ferdinand explained, United’s leadership is multifaceted. It’s a very different beast than Ajax, Utrecht or Go Ahead Eagles. “He’s valued and seen as a very good coach and he comes in and he risks that,” Ferdinand said on his YouTube channel Mood with Five in this week.
“We’ve seen a lot of managers now with a lot more experience who’ve gained a lot more than Ten Hag, a bigger reputation who’ve come in and been chewed up and spat out by this football club. And the players are still the same.
“So he has to find a way to get in there and manage the characters, the personalities and the egos that are in there. And I know I sound like a broken record, but first he has to change the culture, bring the new culture and push it forward. He has to do that, it’s a big part of it if he wants to be successful.”
YouTube/Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE)
Difficult as that may sound, Ferdinand was also quick to point out that Ten Hag has some experience working at a European giant, having been manager of Bayern Munich’s reserve side from 2013-2015 when Guardiola was first-team boss.
“He was in the background at a big club – Bayern Munich is a huge club, one of the biggest in the world,” added Ferdinand. “He was in the Bayern Munich building when Pep was there. He understands what it’s like at a big club with huge demands on what Man United will be like. And most importantly, he was around big players, sitting in the back and watching – seeing how Pep and his staff treated them and how they reacted to certain situations. So he has the experience of being around big players.”
Ten Hag hasn’t just worked with Guardiola at Bayern – he’s made it his mission to learn from him. That New York Times reported in 2019 that Ten Hag’s office at Ajax has three pictures on the wall: Rinus Michels, the mastermind of Total Football at Ajax, Dutch legend and tactical innovator Johan Cruyff, and veteran manager Louis van Gaal.
However, apart from Total Football supporters, Guardiola has the greatest influence. “I learned a lot from Guardiola,” Ten Hag said in February 2019 during Ajax’s run to Barcelona Champions League semifinals. “His philosophy is sensational, what he has achieved Barcelona, Bayern and now at Manchester City, he wins a lot with this attacking and attractive style. I tried to implement this structure with Ajax.”
Before the real Madrid Drawn that season, Ten Hag called Guardiola an “innovator and an inspiration”, adding that a desire to “win by playing well” was a shared ideal. “No one will ever forget Guardiola. He’s only won so many trophies once – but it’s mostly about how his teams play,” added Ten Hag in 2020. “Guardiola only wants to win games with nice football, just like his teacher Johan Cruyff. And what sets him apart is that he’s proving his quality as a top coach in Spain, Germany and now England too. He has adapted to the culture in each country.”
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Ten Hag’s other comments may not bode well Cristiano Ronaldo. “Guardiola had great players at Barcelona, like Andreas Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Xavi and others,” he explained two years ago. “But it takes a lot of quality from a coach to get top players to play great as a team. You have to convince them that they all have a role to play on this team. Guardiola is a master at it. Some top players cannot play in his teams – like Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Everyone has to do their part. The team comes first and not the individual.”
Ferdinand’s concerns about Ten Hag’s ability to deal with all the external factors that come with managing a side the size of United could be allayed by the Dutchman’s words about what he learned at Bayern.
“During my time at Bayern Munich, I saw, among other things, how things work,” said Ten Hag in an interview in 2018. “Every detail can be singled out for analysis. The media, people in general, always find something if you look for it. A hundred things can go well, when one thing goes wrong, people highlight it. This is the football world.”
Ten Hag may not have ever managed a club like United before but he has learned a lot from Guardiola which should stand him in good stead at Old Trafford.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/erik-ten-hag-guardiola-ferdinand-26717870 What Erik ten Hag learned from Pep Guardiola as Rio Ferdinand, Man Utd offer insight