Home » Steve McClaren admits Erik ten Hag always had what it takes to get to the top

Steve McClaren admits Erik ten Hag always had what it takes to get to the top

McClaren tells how Dutch coach excelled in tactics even before he landed first managerial role

by Paul Speller

Manchester United assistant manager Steve McClaren has spoken of the strengths of Erik ten Hag and why he has become such a success as a coach.

The Englishman made his return to the club in the summer after 20 years, following the appointment of Ten Hag.

And speaking on the Performance podcast via TenHagBall on Twitter, the former England boss described what makes United’s boss stand out.

Ten Hag served as McClarens‘ assistant for a single season in 2008, long before his first managerial role, while he was in charge of Dutch side Twente.

And even then, the qualities he possessed as a young tactician were treasured by his coach.

“His strength was on the field, the game. He could read a game and adjust and make adjustments,” McClaren said during the interview.

The 61-year-old coach tells the podcast how easily things can change come kick-off on a Saturday, no matter how much hard work and preparation go into a plan.

“Opponents are different; they change their way of playing, they change their style, ” he continued, admitting that he would turn to Ten Hag for advice.

Despite his 27 years in top-class coaching, McClaren admits he would often resort to asking, “What do we do now, Erik” and it seems that the Dutchman would always have the solution.

Whether asking a forward to play deeper, pushing full-backs higher up the pitch or asking his centre-back to step into midfield, Ten Hag always had a trick up his sleeve when called upon.

Recalling the first time he suggested going “man to man” mid-match, McClaren admits that he thought Ten Hag was joking.

But the tactic worked; he trusted his assistant’s change of the whole system and watched as his players took it on board and changed the game.

Ten Hag’s ability to think on his feet, often tweaking or completely overhauling his game plan during matches, is something that United fans have already witnessed first-hand.

Ten Hag did so with almost immediate effect during the recent derby win over Manchester City, watching his side execute a high man-to-man press with devastating consequences.

And if the Dutch masterclass continues on its upward trajectory since his days at Twente, United fans should prepare for a return to the glory days of years gone by.

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