Ten Hag's four coaching inspirations

Tuesday 10 January 2023 12:00

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has identified the four main inspirations behind his coaching style and ethos.

The boss has revisited his idols in an interview with Premier League Productions, and his background at FC Twente obviously played a huge part in his footballing education, with ex-Netherlands coach Kees Rijvers the biggest influence.

Indeed, all four of the main thinkers he admirers are Dutch, one of them a former United manager in Louis van Gaal. Johan Cruyff, whose brilliant Barcelona side were defeated by the Reds in the 1991 European Cup Winners' Cup final is another, with the man who guided the country to their only major trophy, the 1988 European Championship, Rinus Michels completing the quartet.

Rinus Michels with Johan Cruyff, two of the great Dutch footballing thinkers.

"The best one, the famous one, was the manager of FC Twente, Kees Rijvers," replied Ten Hag, when asked about his main inspirations. "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."

In terms of footballers who enchanted Ten Hag as a youngster, he singled out Epi Drost, one of the biggest legends of all time at FC Twente.

"My love for football began as a kid," he said. "The first time I meet the ball, I start to play, play with your friends. You start following football and, in my young days, Ajax were famous but in my region was FC Twente. We had a great player, at that time, and a really good team. Twente had really many more good players but it was Epi Drost, he was the libero. He was famous for all the risks he'd take from the back.

"He was a good player and famous, really an idol for FC Twente. Still, there is a stand mentioned after him. He was one of the famous, probably the most famous player of FC Twente ever, the club icon.

"I had the luck to work with him later on, when I was selected by FC Twente and came into the youth team. He was coach of the Under-23s and also the assistant manager. I met him and he trained and coached me. Yes [I used to clean his boots], we had the same size of boots, so we shared them!"

Epi Drost enjoys KNVB Cup success with FC Twente in 1977.

Rotterdam-born Drost amassed a then-record 423 appearances for FC Twente in two spells at the club, and won eight caps for the Netherlands.

Originally a forward with Wageningen, he reverted to libero, or playmaking sweeper, and has a statue erected at the club's stadium dubbed 'Muster Twente'.

He sadly died at the tragically young age of 49, when suffering a heart attack in 1995.