A 13-year-old Erik ten Hag tells Johan Cruyff how a trainer should communicate with his players
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A resurfaced interaction with the late Johan Cruyff shows that Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has thought like a coach from a young age.
Back in 1984, a year before Cruyff started his managerial career with Ajax, the former Barcelona player turned manager appeared on a TV show in the Netherlands.
Alongside Cruyff was a number of young footballers, including a fresh-faced Ten Hag, who was just 13 at the time.
But in the discussion, the now-Manchester United boss spoke with maturity beyond his years. The conversation, translated into English, involved the topic of youngsters being shouted at by coaches.
Cruyff, a three-time Ballon d'Or winner, asked: "But it happens a lot right, that a trainer yells. Or does that not happen with you guys?"
In response, Ten Hag said: "I think you should watch out that you don’t yell to the youth too much, because you can break a player like that. But on a higher level, such as the first team of Ajax, you should be able to say something about it."
Ten Hag added: "Those guys train almost every day in the week. If they keep making the same mistakes, you should be able to confront them.”
Cruyff then asked, “So that means you differentiate between youth and paid football?” - to which Ten Hag said "Yes".
After progressing into coaching from playing, Ten Hag was able to carry on Cruyff's 'Total Football' ideas and achieve success with Ajax, where he won three Eredivisie titles.
He talked about meeting Cruyff all those years back in an interview with NOS Sports in April last year, and explained why he has so many images of the Barcelona and Ajax legend.
"There's a reason I have pictures of Cruyff in my office," he said. "Winning is important but you want to win with a certain style.
“You have to win with attractive football because you play football for the people. Johan Cruyff still walks around here, you can feel his DNA."
A 13-year-old Erik ten Hag speaking to Johan Cruyff about man-management: “I think you should watch out that you don't yell to the youth too much, because you can break a player like that. But on a higher level, such as the first team of Ajax, you should be able to say something" pic.twitter.com/gZaRhvJbTq— 𝑬𝒓𝒊𝒌 𝒕𝒆𝒏 𝑯𝒂𝒈 𝑿𝒕𝒓𝒂 (@ETHXtra) January 16, 2023
Ten Hag recently named Cruyff as one of his coaching idols. When asked by Premier League Productions to pick out those who inspired him, he said: "The best one, the famous one, was the manager of FC Twente, Kees Rijvers.
"Later on, he was the manager of PSV [Eindhoven], where he won the UEFA Cup later on [1977-78], and [was] also manager of the Dutch side, the Netherlands.
"Previously, he was a very good player and I also had the luck, for two years, that he was my coach at FC Twente and I learnt a lot about him, about organisation in football, about his philosophy, about playing from the back, attacking football and about team spirit.
"But also other managers inspired me, definitely, like Louis van Gaal, Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff, they are the big inspirers.
"You never know if you go in that direction finally but, as a player, I already did some courses so that I already had some badges. When I was playing as a professional player, I kept my C and B Licence and the moment I quit, I go for the A Licence."
Featured Image Credit: NOS Sport
Topics: Manchester United, Erik Ten Hag, Premier League, Johan Cruyff