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New Manchester United Assistant Manager Mitchell van der Gaag Explains His Player Management Style

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New Manchester United Assistant Manager Mitchell van der Gaag Explains His Player Management Style

Mitchell van der Gaag, former Jong Ajax manager and assistant coach to Erik ten Hag at Ajax will be joining Manchester United next season as part of Ten Hag's back room staff as assistant manager.

Van der Gaag, or “VDG” as he will likely become more well known as throughout the United fan base, is fluent in five languages: English, French, Dutch, Portuguese & Spanish.

The 50-year-old former central defender is clearly highly rated by manager-to-be Ten Hag, who ultimately persuaded van der Gaag to join him at Manchester United, despite an attempt from Ajax to keep him at the club.

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Mitchell van der Gaag has previously described his management style during an interview in Holland.

“I used to have discussions with the whole team, but as field coach I am moving away from that more and more,” Van der Gaag said.

“Players increasingly prefer individual conversations. That takes a lot more time and energy, but I have the feeling that I can reach my players better that way.“

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Throughout this interview, Van der Gaag clearly demonstrated that he understands that as football develops, so do styles of coaching and management and that to stay current and get the best out of your players, coaches need to develop with it.

“I sit down with players every week and we look at how he has played together with the footage. As a result, I can demand much more and you also get more sense of responsibility from the player.

Mitchell van der Gaag manages Jong Ajax | Credit: Alamy
Mitchell van der Gaag manages Jong Ajax | Credit: Alamy

“They can hide in a group. It’s not just fair weather conversations either. If I’m not satisfied, I’ll say so. Then everyone will know where he stands.“

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This is a point that many Manchester United fans will be relieved to hear, as a fair share of the club's fans have had complaints that some players often 'hide' from the ball during games.

“I talk to everyone. If I don’t, and suddenly we have to call on a substitute, I don’t want to be paying attention to that player for the first time.

"You don’t want a player to think ‘ah, he suddenly has time for me, now I am suddenly important.’ I am naturally quite calm – but nor do I run away from a conflict.“

Erik ten Hag, Mitchell van der Gaag and Steve McClaren in attendence to watch Manchester United face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park | Credit: Alamy
Erik ten Hag, Mitchell van der Gaag and Steve McClaren in attendence to watch Manchester United face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park | Credit: Alamy
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With Mitchell van der Gaag and Erik ten Hag taking the helm at Manchester United next summer alongside former Newcastle United manager Steve McClaren, they will have a lot to do with regards to sorting the club out… but if this interview is anything to go by, it sounds like Van der Gaag has the necessary skills to make it happen.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Erik Ten Hag, Manchester United, Ajax

Dylan Penketh
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