Story Behind The Shot: Focus on Erik ten Hag

Thursday 29 December 2022 07:00

As the manager of Manchester United, it’s fair to say Erik ten Hag is one of the most photographed figures in world football and the majority of those are taken by our own Ash Donelon.

In a series for United Review called ‘Story Behind The Shot’, the lifelong Red has been reflecting on his favourite images of the season so far and the manager is an obvious theme to explore. 

Here, Ash focuses on just three photos that stand out in his mind…

Image taken:
Before the Everton match on 9 October 

Ash says: “One of the first priorities on my matchday ‘to do’ list is to capture images of the United players arriving at the stadium. Some of the newer away grounds have underground parking for the team bus, which is secure and convenient, but isn’t always ideal for photography as the backdrops can lack matchday atmosphere. 

IMAGE ONE: Ash perfectly captured the intensity of the manager's pre-match messaging to the squad.
“Goodison Park is a traditional ground (designed by Archibald Leitch, like Old Trafford) and the visiting team have to walk along the side of the pitch to reach the dressing room. This is great because it provides my first opportunity to photograph the players in a matchday setting, and also allows a bit more time than usual to spot any interactions between the United personnel. So when I saw Erik intensely getting his point across to Lisandro as they entered the stadium bowl, I knew I had to get a shot.”
Image taken: Before the Omonia Nicosia at Old Trafford on 13 October 

Ash says: “Every manager has a different matchday routine, and learning their habits allows me to capture better photos. Erik’s the first United boss I’ve photographed who always takes a walk out onto the pitch before every game. He also likes to arrive at Old Trafford around four hours before kick-off, long before any fans or external photographers are allowed inside. For this shot I followed Erik down the player’s tunnel, and waited near the edge of the pitch to photograph him as he walked off. As the stadium is so vast, if I shot from a normal angle the subject would be overpowered by the towering empty stands behind. So I placed my camera directly on the edge of the grass, and this low angle makes the manager appear much larger in the frame, portraying him as the master of his domain.”
IMAGE TWO: The manager's pre-match walk is always a great opportunity for Ash to capture art.
Image taken:
During training at Carrington on 25 October 

Ash says: “During a match, you often see managers become animated on the touchline, which offers a variety of expressions and emotions to photograph. However when you watch the same manager in training it’s a much more subdued affair, but it can still provide opportunities for images. For this photo I went into the pitchside dugout (not something I’d ever be able to do during a match!) and captured Erik surveying the various training drills taking place. The contemplative pose and the direct sunlight help to create a portrait of a boss at work.”
IMAGE THREE: Club photographer Ash got this great shot of Ten Hag studying a session at Carrington.
Read more of 'Story Behind The Shot' from this season's editions of United Review, our official matchday programmes that are all available to order online

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