Erik ten Hag has revealed friends tried to talk him out of taking the Manchester United job but he insisted on taking the challenge, with the Dutchman also saying he has no regrets over his handling of Jadon Sancho.
Ten Hag’s team have suffered dramatic dips in form this season after winning the Carabao Cup in his rookie campaign in English football. They have lifted themselves to sixth in the table after winning against Chelsea this week but were defeated easily last weekend at Newcastle.
Speaking to United We Stand, an independent fanzine, Ten Hag said those close to him had reservations about him agreeing to join United in 2022 after his spell with Ajax.
“I loved the teams of Sir Alex, that [1999 Champions League final] win in Barcelona. It was inspiring,” Ten Hag said when asked what attracted him to United. “A big, successful club was constructed, which then dropped in the last 10 years.
“Everyone was telling me, ‘You can’t succeed in that job’. They said it was impossible. Me? I wanted the challenge. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but it was such a great club with such a great fanbase.
“People love Man United — or they are against Man United. I like clubs like this. Ajax was like this. This job is the most difficult to do, but I want the challenge.”
Ten Hag has made big decisions during his time at United including releasing Cristiano Ronaldo from his contract last season, having Harry Maguire on the bench for most of last season and also accusing Sancho of not training well, leading to him being dropped. Sancho denied Ten Hag’s claim, although he is no longer training with the first-team squad.
“No, I would not do anything different,” said Ten Hag when asked if, in hindsight, he would have acted differently in how he treated the £73 million player.
Ten Hag revealed he is not expecting radical changes to his squad in the January transfer window.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “And if so the approach from United should be that if you can improve your team then you should do.
“What we expect from every player coming to Carrington every day is for them to give their maximum, to give their best. As a club you have to look for improvements, so if you can find better and it’s realistic financially and with FFP [financial fair play] I think the club has to go with it.
“But realistically, in relation to the market, most of the time you don’t attract the best players in the winter.
“The top, top players will not leave their clubs in the winter. It’s players who are disappointed or injured or not the right fit.”