by Nathan Byrne
The impossible job?
Taking on the managerial role at Man United is no small feat, and when Erik ten Hag was appointed as the head coach, he was well aware of the challenges that awaited him.
After 10 years of failure, every manager in the running for the job should have been well aware of the stagnant state of the club.
Speaking to United We Stand fanzine, Ten Hag had this to say about taking the hot seat at Manchester United: “Everyone was telling me, ‘You can’t succeed in that job.’ They said it was impossible. Me? I wanted the challenge.”
Despite warnings from many quarters about the difficulties that come with managing such a high-profile club, ten Hag embraced the opportunity with open arms.
For any football manager, the allure of coaching ManUnited lies in its rich history, passionate fanbase, and the legacy left behind by legendary figures such as Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson. Ten Hag understood this before taking the job as he said.
“I loved the teams of Sir Alex, that [1999 Champions League final] win in Barcelona. It was inspiring. A big, successful club was constructed, which then dropped in the last 10 years.”
Erik ten Hag was under no illusions about the difficulty of the task at hand. He recognised that managing Man United is perhaps one of the most challenging jobs in football.
“This job is the most difficult to do, but I want the challenge,” he said.
The club had experienced a decline in the preceding years, and the expectations were high for the Dutch coach to revive its fortunes.
Man United, like very little other football institutions, are either loved or hated, they ruined childhoods of opposing fans. Football fans either passionately love the club or oppose it like no other. Ten Hag, having experienced a similar environment at Ajax, expressed his admiration for such support.
“People love Man United — or they are against Man United. I like clubs like this. Ajax was like this,” he said.
In response to the question about whether he regrets the decision regarding Jadon Sancho’s punishment, Erik ten Hag remained steadfast, stating, “No, I would not do anything different.”
The resolute affirmation reflects ten Hag’s commitment to his managerial decisions and the principles he upholds. By standing firm on his choices, and maintaining discipline and accountability within the team. Such unwavering determination is indicative of his leadership style.
As he navigates the challenges of steering Manchester United, ten Hag’s decisiveness has become a hallmark of his managerial approach, reinforcing the idea that he is unswayed by external pressures when it comes to making tough choices for the betterment of the team.