Why Ten Hag can break his own record
Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag is on the brink of an impressive personal achievement in his managerial career.
If the Reds avoid defeat against Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford on Saturday, the Dutchman will break his own record for the number of consecutive home matches without loss in all competitions.
The current tally is 30 games - which equals Ten Hag’s longest unbeaten run on home soil, that, as revealed by Opta, stretched between October 2017 and February 2019 with both Utrecht and Ajax, whom he managed in his home country.
Of course, long unbeaten runs at the Theatre of Dreams are nothing new in United’s storied history - particularly under our legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
After the Reds beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 in the first home match of the season, the victory extended our formidable tally of games without defeat in M16 to 30 matches in all competitions since a 1-0 reverse against Real Sociedad in the Europa League on 8 September 2022.
Let’s hope the run continues this weekend when our former winger Anthony Elanga is among the visitors with Nottingham Forest, who were beaten 2-0 and 3-0 respectively at the Theatre of Dreams last term in the Carabao Cup and Premier League respectively.
ERIK'S EPIC EXPLOITS IN HIS NATIVE NETHERLANDS
Earlier in his career, Ten Hag spent two-and-a-half years at Utrecht as sporting director and head coach.
On 24 September 2017, his team were beaten heavily at home by PSV Eindhoven - who went on to win the Dutch Eredivisie that season.
In the next home match, Utrecht - where former United midfielder Zidane Iqbal now plays his football - bounced back in front of their own fans with a 3-1 victory over Heerenveen on 14 October.
Little did Ten Hag know that the victory would be the start of a formidable run for him.
It was followed by a 2-2 draw with NAC Breda, a 3-1 win over Excelsior and a 1-1 draw with Heracles Almelo as he ended his spell in the job unbeaten in four home league games.
In December 2017, Ajax came calling and he embarked on a successful spell in Amsterdam, where he went on to win three Eredivisie titles, lift two Dutch Cups and reach the Champions League semi-finals.
He got off to a winning start with a 2-0 victory over Feyenoord at the Amsterdam Arena (now the Johan Cruyff Arena), which would quickly become a happy home for him.
Remarkably, Ten Hag was unbeaten in his first 26 home matches as Ajax manager, winning 22 of them and drawing four. In that run, there were a number of eye-catching results - most notably a memorable 3-3 draw against German giants Bayern Munich in the Champions League group stage and an 8-0 demolition of De Graafschap in the league.
Visiting teams clearly found Ten Hag’s Ajax a tough proposition in front of their own fans as they swept FC Emmen and AZ Alkmaar aside with 5-0 wins, thrashed ADO Den Haag 5-1 and eased past VV-Venlo 6-0.
But the unbeaten run ended at 30 games on 13 February 2019 when Real Madrid came away from the Dutch capital with a 2-1 win in the first leg of their last-16 tie in the Champions League. It was a result that Ajax would recover from with a famous 4-1 victory in the second leg, before Tottenham eventually put pay to their chances of reaching the final with a dramatic 3-2 away win in the second leg of the semi-final.
In an interview with club media last season, Ten Hag said: "No team likes to come to Old Trafford.
"We are strong. We need the fans behind us because I think that co-operation between the fans, the players and the team is so strong and the bond, we have to strengthen it even more. But you have to prove it every time."
TEN HAG’S PRE-UNITED UNBEATEN HOME RECORD
Home games unbeaten: 30
Number of different competitions: 3 (Eredivisie, Dutch Cup, Champions League)
Goals scored: 89
Goals conceded: 20
Clean sheets: 16
TEN HAG’S CURRENT UNBEATEN HOME RECORD
Home games unbeaten: 30
Number of different competitions: 4 (Premier League, Carabao Cup, Emirates FA Cup, Europa League)
Goals scored: 66
Goals conceded: 16
Clean sheets: 17