TueWhen Erik ten Hag was appointed head coach of Bayern Munich II, he quickly fell out with the team’s striker. Kevin Friesenbichler was frustrated at being left out of the team until he could live up to Ten Hag’s strict standards.
The Dutchman, who will take charge of his first Manchester United game against Brighton on Sunday, had to make it clear what he needs from his players to fit in with his team and not get in the way of the dressing room.
“We had a little disagreement – as a player and a coach – but after a couple of months everything was fine,” Friesenbichler said. “We had a very good relationship. If he wants to tell you something, if he wants to show you something tactical, he can tell it to everyone so that he understands exactly what he wants.
Friesenbichler had his best season yet when Bayern 2 finished at the top of the league in 2013/14, scoring 15 goals in 22 games under Ten Hag and they almost reunited at Utrecht, such was the connection between them.
Ten Hag prioritizes attracting players who understand how he works, whether it’s Lisandro Martinez, who played under him at Ajax, or Christian Eriksen and Tyrell Malasia, who both studied in the Netherlands. The trio will be important in the locker room to help their teammates pick up speed.
So far, these are the club’s only signings in this window and there is no doubt that Ten Hag would like more. But he’s a man who prides himself on improving individuals – that’s the Ajax way. Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford were two players who didn’t live up to their potential last season as they struggled to prove themselves in a hectic campaign after the Euro disappointment. Ten Haeg will have to restore them.
“Don’t look back, look ahead,” says Ten Hag. “I see the potential of many players in this team and I am convinced that we can develop them. First develop the team, and then individuals will develop. Now you must look ahead, because you cannot change the past; you can change the future.”
It will be an evolutionary process. United’s fans and players need to ease the burden of previous success that has fallen on the club. Ten Hag has established himself as someone who wants to play exciting, attacking football, but he is also a pragmatist and knows that United can’t go from sixth to title contention in 12 months.
“You want to win, and you want to win in a certain way; so active, bold, adventurous and I think it’s part of the Manchester United culture and we want to bring that in,” he says. “But if you can’t win in a good way, in a fun way, you still have to win. It’s a mentality, an attitude that we bring.”
Fans are optimistic about Old Trafford but will need patience. United lost four games at home and drew five last season, a statistic that can’t be repeated if they want to move up the table. They will have to fight in matches, in a stadium that has lost its sense of awe and fear of rivals, if they want to make Old Trafford terrifying again.
“Me, the coaching staff, the players – we have to do everything to bring success back on the field, because everything starts on the field,” explains Ten Hag. “Every day at the training base, bring the maximum that you can, and then you will develop as a person and strengthen the team.”
The fans will also play their part. “I think it’s obvious that this stadium is for wrestling. hope for good cooperation [from the fans]Ten Hag says. “But we have to lead by example on the pitch. If we have the right attitude – and by that I mean hard work and also courage – then the fans will love it and it will bring the fight back.”
Even at the elite level, improvement doesn’t happen overnight, people need time to thrive in a changing work environment under a new coach with new ideas, but Ten Hag is a man who has the right concepts to identify weaknesses and develop players to maximize potential. .
“There will be setbacks and disappointments, and we will have to live with it,” he says. “I know this because this is life – a sporting life. Every club, every team and every fan has to deal with this. This is the attitude we all need. When you show this and have a good plan, you will eventually succeed. I’m 100% sure of it.”
United’s players and fans will have to trust Ten Hag’s plan, even if it takes time to implement.