A hard-working, unified team playing attacking and entertaining soccer.
Erik ten Hag has set out his vision for Manchester United after being presented as the fifth manager in nine years at a fallen giant coming off its worst ever season in the Premier League.
“The current situation is obviously not that good. It’s a big challenge,” Ten Hag told MUTV on Monday.
The previous day, Ten Hag was at Selhurst Park to watch United lose 1-0 at Crystal Palace to conclude a fifth-straight season without a trophy and finish the league in sixth place on 58 points – its lowest total since the Premier League was created in 1992.
United has resembled a dysfunctional club this season – on and off the field – and Ten Hag will front a huge rebuilding job after joining from Ajax Amsterdam, who he returned to the summit of Dutch soccer by adopting the attacking philosophy of the team’s most famous player, Johan Cruyff.
He wants to do the same at United, which hasn’t won a trophy since the 2017 Europa League.
“I want to build and construct a team who are battling for each other, who are unified and who will get results,” he said.
“Also we are playing in the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ – we want to entertain. But in the end, the intention is to play fantastic football. If we can’t play fantastic football, we still have to win.”
Ten Hag also made sure to keep a link to the great United teams led by Sir Alex Ferguson when choosing his backroom staff.
Steve McClaren will be one of Ten Hag’s two assistants, the former England coach returning to Old Trafford for a second spell after being the No.2 to Ferguson from 1999 to 2001 when United won three straight league titles.
This season, United was 35 points behind champions Manchester City.
“It’s a process,” Ten Hag said.
“It will take time, but I’m convinced we will come to that point where we get success. We have to work hard and it has to be based on the right philosophy and strategy.
“It has to be about attacking football. We have to bring structures in the way of playing, so we can play attacking football.”