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Who is new Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag? Teams coached, trophies won, tactics & philosophy explained

11:20 AM WAT 21/04/2022
Erik ten Hag Ajax 2021-22
The Dutch manager will be the new head coach of Manchester United and will take charge ahead of the 2022-23 campaign

Manchester United have appointed Erik ten Hag as their new manager, and he will take charge at Old Trafford following the conclusion of this season.

The Dutch tactician will leave his current position as Ajax boss and become United’s fifth permanent manager since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club in 2013.

He will replace Ralf Rangnick, who has been interim manager since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked in November.

What teams has Erik ten Hag coached?

In 2012, Ten Hag was given the charge of Go Ahead Eagles, a club in the Eerste Divisie (Second Division in Netherlands). He stayed there for one season and guided the club to its first promotion in 17 years.

In his next assignment, he moved on to Bayern Munich Reserves in June 2013. During this stint, he worked closely with Pep Guardiola, who was then working as the first team manager in Munich.

After spending two years in Germany he returned to Netherlands and took on the role of sporting director and head coach at FC Utrecht. In 2017, he moved to Ajax and guided them to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals in 2018-19. His troops beat defending champions Real Madrid at the Round of 16 stage and ousted Juventus in the quarter-finals before falling to Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham in the last four. In fact, Pochettino had also been one of the contenders for the United job.

Team

Years managed

Games Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

GD

Win %

Go Ahead Eagles

July, 2012- June, 2013

39

18

11

10

+25

46.15

Bayern Munich II

June, 2013 - May, 2015

72

48

10

14

+95

66.67

FC Utrecht

May, 2015 - December, 2017

111

56

26

29

+70

50.45

AFC Ajax

December 2017 - Present

210

156

25

29

+400

74.28

How many trophies has Erik ten Hag won?

Hag has won five trophies in his career so far and all of them have come with Ajax. His first managerial silverware was the KNVB Cup, which he won after beating Willem II in the final. He also won the league and completed the domestic double.

Ten Hag also has the distinction of being the fastest coach to 100 wins in the Eredivisie, as he achieved the milestone in just 128 matches.

Trophy

Year(s) won

Eredivisie

2018-19, 2020-21

KNVB Cup

2018-19, 2020-21

Johan Cruyff Shield

2019

What is Erik ten Hag's coaching philosophy & tactics?

Erik ten Hag likes his team to keep the ball. He is attack-minded and looks to be in charge of the game with lots of possession. He has openly admired Guardiola and admitted that his philosohpies have had an effect on his coaching philosophy.

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

In terms of his preferred formation, Ten Hag employed a 4-4-2 - with a diamond in midfield - during the early years of his coaching career before moving on to a 4-3-3.

Now, though, he favours a 4-2-3-1, which will obviously be familiar to United's current squad, given it's the same system used by former boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the one which interim manager Ralf Rangnick has also belatedly decided upon.

In addition, Ten Hag likes to take into account even the smallest detail, such as the length of grass on the pitch.

“Behind every training session, there was an idea,” Marnix Kolder, Go Ahead’s captain at the time, told the Independent.

“He makes every player better. Tactical, physical. Erik left nothing to chance. He was prepared for every opponent, down to the last detail.”

“Every morning he’d go to the pitch to see if the grass was high enough,” added retired midfielder Sjoerd Overgoor.

Even Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, holds him in high esteem.

“Erik [ten Hag] is rightly regarded as one of the most exciting coaching talents in world football at the moment because of the work he does with Ajax,” Klopp said in December 2020. 

“Of course, it is a wonderful club – one of the stellar names of European football – but in this moment it is clear they have outstanding leadership of the organisation and Erik is a big part of that."