Why Ten Hag is 'like a Prime Minister'
Former Manchester United striker Robin van Persie has revealed how he’s been taking coaching inspiration from current Reds boss Erik ten Hag.
Robin visited our Carrington training ground twice recently to observe the squad and the work that’s going on behind the scenes during our first season under his fellow countryman.
Van Persie, now 39 and working as a coach at Eredivisie club Feyenoord, also interviewed Erik in February for a BT Sport feature which you can watch below.
As he negotiates the early stages of his own coaching journey following his retirement from professional football in 2019, it’s clear that the Premier League title winner is keen to soak up anything he can from top coaches like Ten Hag, who was more than willing to help.
“The first time [I met Erik] was a couple of weeks ago, when I was here for two days,” Van Persie began. “That was the first time actually and the way how open he was towards me… he wants to share his knowledge and he wants to help a young coach.
“I’m a young coach now. My playing days are gone and I don’t think about or dream about actions anymore. I think about tactics and systems and how I can put my team in the best possible way on a football pitch.
“That’s how I think now and he gave me some new ideas.
“I get new ideas everywhere and he was one of them who really opened the doors and I appreciate that.”
Van Persie still occasionally appears on BT Sport as a pundit, and he was on screen for United’s memorable 2-1 victory over Barcelona at Old Trafford three weeks ago as it coincided with his visit to Manchester.
Spending time around the club has allowed the Netherlands’ all-time leading goalscorer to understand the vibe that has been building with Erik in charge.
United have won 31 games in all competitions this season – more than any other club in Europe’s top-five leagues – and of course we recently celebrated our first silverware since 2017 at Wembley, after the 2-0 victory over Newcastle United.
“Like I mentioned in the interview with Erik, people are happy to watch Manchester United again and it gives them joy,” Robin added.
“That is what you want as a football club, as a manager and as a player. You want to entertain, you want to do nice things on the pitch.
“You can only do that if you really work together and this is what these guys are doing for the past few months. Then you can see where it can go to.”
And Van Persie is not just impressed with Ten Hag's tactical thoughts - he also sees the 53-year-old as akin to a top politician, due to the multiple areas he has to oversee.
“With every exercise there’s a clear idea or a clear target to reach for every player.
“He gave me a lot of good insight to work on, both in possession and when the opponent has the ball.
“Also how to manage: not just a team but a whole club. It almost feels like a Prime Minister, the job he has. I always feel very welcome here at Manchester United and I like to see everyone is polite and everyone is happy to see you. That goes both ways.”
With thanks to BT Sport.