Monday, January 30, 2023

Man City boss Pep Guardiola predicted what ‘top class’ Erik ten Hag would accomplish in his first season as Manchester United coach

Man City boss Pep Guardiola predicted what ‘top class’ Erik ten Hag would accomplish in his first season as Manchester United coach

Erik ten Hag was in charge of Bayern Munich II in Germany for two seasons during Pep Guardiola’s tenure with the club.

In his first season as a manager, Ten Hag led Go Ahead Eagles to promotion, and accepting the Bayern Munich II job was viewed as a natural progression, given the opportunity to work at a club where he could learn directly from Guardiola.

The Dutchman had already established his principles and beliefs in his first season with Go Ahead Eagles, but he wanted to learn from a coach who had just presided over Barcelona’s most successful era before moving to Germany.

“I learned a lot from Guardiola. His philosophy is sensational,” Ten Hag said in 2019. “What he did in Barcelona, Bayern and now with Manchester City, that attacking and attractive style sees him win a lot. It’s this structure that I’ve tried to implement with Ajax.

“Since Pep, football in Germany is different, I looked at almost every training back then, and I took a lot of methodical lessons on how to transfer his philosophy to the pitch. I want to have possession and hurt the opponent. It’s about possession, about movement, about vertical attacking patterns, about pressing, wingers moving into the middle to make room for the full-backs.”

Ten Hag’s time with Bayern Munich II improved him as a coach, and he moved to Utrecht in 2015 after a successful stay in Germany. He then managed Utrecht for two years before being recruited by Dutch powerhouse Ajax.

Normally, a resume that includes Go Ahead Eagles, Bayern Munich II, Utrecht, and Ajax would not lead to the Manchester United job, but John Murtough was so impressed by Ten Hag in interviews that he was appointed in May.

Guardiola, who spent a year at Bayern with Ten Hag, remarked at the time, “Congratulations to Erik and wish him all the best. He is a top-class manager, his teams are a joy to watch at a team like Ajax.”

The Catalan subsequently praised Ten Hag prior to their first Manchester derby in October. “I’m so happy he’s here in England. I like managers when they have this spirit. It doesn’t matter the opponent, stronger or weaker, they go and play their game.”

Guardiola has lavished praise on Ten Hag during his first six months as manager, and if anyone doubted that the praise was given out of courtesy, they need look no further than the progress he’s making at United this season.

The early glimmers of his philosophy have become increasingly enduring, and he has improved the majority of the dressing room, which is a sign of a world-class manager. Rashford, in particular, has experienced a remarkable turnaround.

Each month, Guardiola’s prediction that Ten Hag would be an excellent hire becomes more accurate. The club had a disappointing week last week, but a draw against Crystal Palace and a loss against Arsenal do not diminish the bigger picture.

Although this season was expected to be a transitional one, the club has a great chance to end its trophy drought in Ten Hag’s first season in charge, and a top-four finish appears assured barring catastrophe.

Against Palace last week, United failed to match the 10-game winning streak that Sir Alex Ferguson oversaw in January and February of 2009, but they had already matched a nine-game winning streak from Jose Mourinho’s first season in 2016-17.

Mourinho, who won the League Cup and the Europa League, is the most successful manager in the post-Ferguson era, but Ten Hag has created a sense of unity not seen in a decade.

There were doubts about Ten Hag’s ability to succeed at Old Trafford, but Guardiola was not one of them.

The manager of Manchester City has been the best in his field for some time, so he knew what to expect.

Man City boss Pep Guardiola predicted what ‘top class’ Erik ten Hag would accomplish in his first season as Manchester United coach

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