Manchester United were in deep turmoil when Erik ten Hag took over the reins.
The club had finished a disastrous sixth in the league and the Dutchman had to take over a squad close to mutiny and a team full of holes, having gone through three different managers in the course of a season.
But the Dutch boss is revolutionised the club both in terms of playing style and personnel and he is such a workaholic that he is now set to take over duties as the reserve team coach as well.
This news courtesy The Athletic and The Daily Mirror with the former Ajax coach is of the opinion that United’s reserve team — their Under-21 side — was “isolated” before he joined last summer.
Ten Hag’s brand new role
Ten Hag had explained the rationale behind his decision back when he had spoken to United football director John Murtough during talks regarding the vacant United manager’s post.
“For me, cooperation between all the different departments is crucial to get the right culture in a club. Like at Ajax, when I entered Manchester United the reserve team was isolated.
“It was no longer really part of the academy, but it wasn’t part of the first team either. I changed that immediately — just as I did when I entered Amsterdam.”
United pride themselves on their youth policy with the club’s proud record of having a homegrown talent named in every United squad since October 1937 still going strong.
Ten Hag’s great record at bringing through young players at Ajax had helped him land the United gig in the first place.
🚨”Erik ten Hag insisted on taking control of Man United’s RESERVES to ensure young talents have a route to the first team”[@MailSport]
Good to see the structure being rectified. Thoughts 🤔💭#MUFC #ManUtd #Manunited #PremierLeague #Football pic.twitter.com/s1WWuEgOIG
— RealRedsTalk (RRT) (@RealRedsTalk1) January 1, 2023
And Ten Hag wants this record to continue and wants to take a closer look at the talent coming through and ensure a steady flow of talent through to the first-team.
The process includes giving minutes to certain players while trying out others in specific positions while also having a similar style of play so that the jump to the first-team is not as drastic.
Reserves to benefit
“At Ajax, the reserve team came under the responsibility of the manager. That was the only way I could have influence on the flow of young, talented players towards the first team.
“Of course I still give the coaches freedom to work, but I also give them direction, by saying for example ‘I want that player to start making minutes in that position.
“So the final responsibility lies with me about how the second team performs and the flow of players that goes from the reserve team to the first team.”
The Under-21s have quite a few talented players, close to breaking into the first-team, with the likes of Zidane Iqbal, Kobbie Mainoo and Rhys Bennett already training multiple times with the first-team squad.
The United Under-21s have only won once in 12 league games this season and are 11th of 14 teams in the Premier League 2 Division 1. Ten Hag will be hoping to turn that around as well just like he has done with the first team.
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