Man United coach who 'almost died' in the dugout will take charge vs Everton
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Manchester United travel away to Everton on Sunday afternoon in what is expected to be a tough game for the Red Devils.
Goodison Park is a tough away ground to play at normally, but it set to be even more challenging for Man United following Everton's recent 10-point deduction in the Premier League for breaching the FFP rules, which will all but spur the team on to make up lost ground.
United will also have to deal with a huge miss in the dugout on Sunday afternoon, with an influential figure set to be absent.
Assistant manager Mitchell van der Gaag is set to take the reins against Everton, being joined by Benni McCarthy, Eric Ramsay, and Steve McClaren in the dugout.
As his right hand man, van der Gaag arrived at the club along with ten Hag from Ajax last summer, becoming a crucial figure at the club.
The former's coaching history goes beyond his relationship with ten Hag though, starting 15 years ago with spells at Maritimo, Belenenses, Ermis, NAC, and managed at both FC Eindhoven and Exelsior Rotterdam before joining Ajax in 2019.
The Dutchman is well travelled to say the least, and is fluent in six languages including: Dutch, English, Portuguese, German, French and Spanish.
Van der Gaag is reportedly the head of United's training sessions, with ten Hag adding his thoughts in when he sees something he would like to highlight.
The 52-year-old had previously suffered a health scare that many may not know of in 2013, during his time as manager at Belenenses.
Following a successful first season, winnning the title and returning the club to the top flight, van der Gaag's heart stopped while he was in the dugout before being brought back to life at the start of his second season.
Ex-Belenenses goalkeeper Matt Jones spoke to The Athletic last year about the shocking incident:
“His heart stopped… he was dead. He collapsed on the bench 30 minutes into the game against Maritimo, and it got stopped for a while,” He explained.
“It was only at half-time we realised what had happened because it was so quick and sudden. A defibrillator was in the dugout and used to bring him back to life.
"It was scary for us as players. Luckily, he had a pacemaker built in, and it did exactly what it was supposed to."
Following this health scare, van der Gaag took a leave of absence from the game, before returning in 2015 and eventually becoming Ajax's assistant coach in 2021 alongside Erik ten Hag.
With a backstory as journeyed and interesting as this, he will surely be praised if he can take home all three points this weekend.