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Former Manchester United Defender Believes “Nightmare” Season Can Be Good For Erik ten Hag

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Former Manchester United Defender Believes “Nightmare” Season Can Be Good For Erik ten Hag

Former Manchester United defender Mikael Silvestre believes that United’s disastrous season last season, although being a “nightmare”, can be a good thing for Erik ten Hag.

Being a man who has won four Premier League titles himself, Silvestre knows a thing or two about how to win.

"I think last season was a nightmare with the changing of the manager and finishing sixth. That was a real nightmare, so I don't think [it can get worse],” Silvestre explains to Mirror Football. “I think the team will finish in a better position next season. There will be pressure, of course, but [Ten Hag] will be the first one to put pressure on himself; he doesn't want to be seen as a failure. That's normal.”

Silvestre also believes that Erik ten Hag did not take up the task of being Manchester United manager lightly, and knows full well what lies ahead for him.

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“He didn't just take the job for the sake of it, he wants to achieve the objective. So I think it's challenging, but for him, he will be given the time to work. It's going to take some work.”

Mikael Silvestre was a multiple-Premier League title winner under Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. (Alamy)
Mikael Silvestre was a multiple-Premier League title winner under Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. (Alamy)

It’s quite clear to see that Silvestre is a fan of the Dutchman. Ten Hag has spent the last three years at Ajax winning three league titles in a row; and that doesn’t come as a fluke.

"Erik's been successful because he's got his own personality and his own management style,” the Frenchman detailed. “I think for United you have to embrace the culture, so that's something that he needs to do. The work methods he knows, he should to stick to. Stick with what you know best.

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“But he has to embrace the culture and the heritage of the club. When you're addressing the players, when you know what the club is about and the past it will help motivate them. For me, that's key.”

One very attractive thing about Erik ten Hag is the style of play he gets out of his squad. Aggressive, high pressing and possession-based football are all things that a ‘modern’ top manager needs to be able to coax out of their players, as it has become the way to win.

Erik ten Hag as a big job ahead of him at Manchester United. (Alamy)
Erik ten Hag as a big job ahead of him at Manchester United. (Alamy)

Silvestre warns though that just because Ten Hag was able to play such football with his players at Ajax, that does not mean he will be able to replicate a similar style with ease at Manchester United

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"His biggest challenge is to get the team playing the way he wants. That's the biggest challenge, because the players are not used to him and vice versa. It's hard when you are a new coach to achieve it. But if he does, then they will be close to the objective.”

"He won the league in Holland. Okay it's Ajax, who have the biggest budget, but when they reached the semi-finals of the Champions League they played some very, very good football. The challenge for him is to repeat that with different players in a different league, so he is going to be tested."

Manchester United fans have become frustrated in recent weeks with the lack of transfer activity compared to rival clubs. Manchester City have recently announced the signing of Erling Haaland, and Liverpool have brought in Uruguayan Darwin Nunez, while the Red Devils are yet to secure a single signing despite five key players leaving on free contracts at the end of June.

Silvestre believes that pre-season will be vital for Erik ten Hag and his squad, and that United need to get new players in as soon as they can in order for the squad to have a maximum amount of time to adjust to the inevitable new style that Ten Hag will implement.

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Erik ten Hag is keen to be reunited with former Ajax player Frenkie de Jong at Manchester United. (Alamy)
Erik ten Hag is keen to be reunited with former Ajax player Frenkie de Jong at Manchester United. (Alamy)

"Normally with the pre-season, you have enough time to apply yourself and get into what the manager wants to achieve. It's going to be down to how quickly you can bring new players in.

“If they can be in for the first day of pre-season, then that's ideal. But if they sign later then that's complicated, that's for sure. They need to sign some players as quickly as possible.”

"Obviously the manager will be hoping to get his players as soon as possible. You need to be proactive, but before Erik's appointment, it was difficult to move and to engage with players officially. Now they've got two or three weeks to get cracking.”

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Erik ten Hag is set to start pre season on 27 June for players not currently away on international duty, with the rest joining shortly before the club take on Liverpool in Bangkok on 12 July in the first of six pre-season friendlies.

Manchester United will then face Melbourne Victory, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa in Australia before heading off to Oslo to face Atletico Madrid on 30 July, with pre-season rounding off at Old Trafford on 31 July against Rayo Vallecano.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Manchester United, Erik Ten Hag, Football

Dylan Penketh
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