What's Ten Hag like on the touchline?
Manchester United legend Jaap Stam is expecting Erik ten Hag to be a calm but firm figure when he takes to the dugout at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag will become United’s new manager this summer and he could arrive in Manchester as a three-time Eredivisie winner - Ajax will be confirmed as champions tonight (Wednesday) if they beat SC Heerenveen at home.
Stam faced Ten Hag while managing PEC Zwolle and Feyenoord in his homeland and therefore has first-hand experience of the 52-year-old’s character and temperament.
“From what I know, he’s quite calm on the touchline,” said Jaap. “He’s not very busy – he’s not running up and down.
Stam: Erik knows how he wants to play football
United legend Jaap Stam is asked what United fans can expect from Erik ten Hag, plus what he’s like on the touchline…
“His style is that he’s quite calm and he’s quite clear to his players before the games in terms of what he’s expecting from them.
“Sometimes he brings them to the touchline to say ‘OK, maybe you need to do a little bit more of this or that’.
“That’s what you see from games in Holland, but the majority of the time he’s quite at ease when he’s on the touchline and on the bench.”
There has been plenty of discussion ahead of Ten Hag’s arrival in England, with much centred, as ever, around potential incomings and outgoings. But which players who are already at United will benefit from Erik’s coaching?
Donny van de Beek was a key figure in the Ajax side under Ten Hag before joining United in 2020, so naturally we asked Jaap if we could we see the best of him in the red shirt next season.
“It’s always a combination of players. It’s not like one player. You can’t say ‘I’m going to bring one player in and the whole team is going to produce better or he’s going to show himself because there’s a different manager’,” answered Jaap.
“I think Donny is a good player, we’ve seen him in Holland and when he was at United he didn’t always get the opportunity to play.
“I don’t know why, because of certain reasons, it’s difficult to say from the outside that this is it, but from what I understand, and what I know, for a player to produce and do well, he needs to have other players around him who can produce and bring him to a certain level, because then it’s easier to step up for yourself as well.
“I think that’s a very important one and then you need to find that combination of players together, to eventually have success. That’s a very important one for the club.”
Overall, Stam suggests that Ten Hag will want to come in and have a holistic view of the squad before he makes any concrete decisions over personnel.
“If you’re making choices with the players who are already there and who to keep within the club and also who to bring in: is that the perfect fit with how you want to play on the left, on the right, in the middle, up front? To have that ideal partnership, basically, to do well and get results.
“It could be possible that when Donny comes back in, he’s going to perform next season, but it’s very important for him as to who he’s going to play with in midfield, for instance, if he’s going to be playing there.
“That’s for him, but it’s also for 10 or 15 other players maybe the same situation.”
Stam was speaking ahead of the United v Liverpool Legends of the North game at Old Trafford on Saturday 21 May - tickets are still available here.