How Erik may look to evolve United's style

Tuesday 18 July 2023 12:00

Jaap Stam is looking forward to seeing if Erik ten Hag adapts his style of play at Manchester United in the upcoming season.

The Reds enjoyed a successful first campaign under Ten Hag, winning the Carabao Cup, reaching the Emirates FA Cup final and finishing third in the Premier League.

However, legendary Treble winner Stam believes his fellow countryman will attempt to make his side more dominant in terms of possession, using the evidence provided from his time in charge of Ajax.

The arrival of Mason Mount in midfield could be a pointer towards this and there are theories that the play will evolve under shrewd tactician Ten Hag.

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"You see that the team is growing but there is still a lot to be done," Stam told us. "I think, when you're looking at them play, and they show bits of quality at times, but we also need to be honest. They need to make improvement in terms of playing and being more dominant.

"At least, that's what we think that he [Erik] wants to do as well. I know him from Holland and how he's playing with his teams over here is a bit different than how he's been playing at United.

"It's normal, I think, in a way as well because now he's joining a different league, a very strong league, with very strong teams in this league. So he needs to find his feet in a way of like making his decision with the players that he has, trying to mould the system as well with the players that he had last season, to get results which is, of course, very important.

"But what's very important going into the new season is by bringing players in and getting close to the level of play that he's looking for."

Stam played at Ajax at the end of his career, in 2006/07, and was impressed by the work undertaken by Ten Hag at another of his former clubs, in becoming a real force in the Eredivisie and Champions League.

"What he likes, how he likes to play, and what we've seen with Ajax in the Champions League as well," added the 51-year-old. "That is probably how he wants to play, more dominant.

"And, when we look at a club [such] as United, as a whole, we want United, as the fans, and everybody within the club probably as well, we want United to be dominant.

"We want them to be on top of the opposition and not holding back too much but, you know, keeping the ball, keeping possession, being a threat every time and not only in transition but on the ball. And then, of course, making it very difficult for the opposition to create anything but creating a lot of opportunities ourselves.

"I think that's what shows how United is as a club, as a team and how they were in the past. I think that's what he's looking for as well, and to be even more resilient, at times, as well."