Ten Hag's unveiling has instantly rebooted United

Thursday 26 May 2022 10:00

I don't know about everyone else, but I felt a wave of relief and positivity flow through me as Monday progressed. As Erik ten Hag was unveiled as United's new manager.

Let's not dwell too much on it, now it's over, but the 2021/22 season was one of the most dispiriting I can remember as a United fan. And I don't think many would disagree with that assessment.
 
Following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's mid-season departure, there was a gnawing sense of limbo, of stasis. Especially after our last shot at silverware had disappeared following the Champions League exit at the hands of Atletico Madrid.
 
Seeing our two greatest rivals, Liverpool and Manchester City, poised to hoover up every trophy going didn't exactly lessen the ongoing frustration.
Ten Hag’s press conference unveiling Video

Ten Hag’s press conference unveiling

Press conference | Watch all of Erik’s fascinating unveiling as United manager at the Theatre of Dreams…

But on Monday morning, the future suddenly appeared. That sense of purgatory was gone, and Erik ten Hag was in situ, and delivering a composed press conference to a hungry press pack.
 
Now our future is clear, at least for the foreseeable. And that brings with it a feeling of freshness; a feeling of clear direction. Exactly what we have been missing since Ole bid farewell.
 
I'm not going to pretend that I know reams of detailed information about our new manager. I'm not going to say he's the best thing since sliced bread; that a charge on the Premier League title is imminent.
 
All reasonable United fans that I have spoken to – and I spend most of my life chatting about the club and how it's getting on – know that he is a huge job on his hands. Expectations are modest.
Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, several managers have struggled to hoist the club back where it belongs: to a position where we are regularly competing for the Premier League and the Champions League.
 
Last season saw us record our lowest points total since the league rebranded in 1992.
 
We might be the unsurpassed, 20-times champions of England, but let's be honest: we've not come close to adding to our tally since Sir Alex left, and Erik will need time and plenty of support if he is to be the man to power us back into the mix.

But he started well, with a call for unity, teamwork and co-operation. With some no-nonsense answers, when a few journalists tried to push him for tasty soundbites on hot issues like Ronaldo, the captaincy and the current gap between us and our two aforementioned rivals.
Part 1: Ten Hag’s first interview as boss Video

Part 1: Ten Hag’s first interview as boss

Ten Hag exclusive | Watch the first half of our big interview with Erik, discussing his exciting arrival at United…

Even more impressive to me was the fact he was at Old Trafford, ready to start grafting, immediately after the end of the Premier League season.
 
No break – just a clear and very obvious sign that there was plenty of work to do, and no time to waste in getting on with it.
 
And then he unexpectedly headed to the staff canteen at lunchtime, where he greeted everyone in the room personally, spreading further that message of togetherness and co-operation.
 
He didn't have to do that, on what was probably one of the most demanding days of his working life. But he did, and I know what that meant to my colleagues – many of whom are die-hard, local United fans like myself.
Access All Areas: Ten Hag's tour Video

Access All Areas: Ten Hag's tour

Join Erik ten Hag as he goes backstage at the Theatre of Dreams and meets United staff and fans on his first visit...

It revealed a human side. A warmth. And if United are to improve on the pitch, that's one of the first things Erik needs to bring to Carrington.
 
Forget tactical systems and philosophies for a moment. Because United's players are human beings just like the ones Ten Hag greeted in the canteen. Humans with families, normal concerns and the same emotions and vulnerabilities as the rest of us.
 
After a difficult season, what they need most is harmony. And Erik gave a clear sign that he understands and appreciates what a strong, binding workplace culture can do.
Part 2: Our big interview with Ten Hag Video

Part 2: Our big interview with Ten Hag

Ten Hag exclusive | Here's part two of Pien Meulensteen's sit-down with our new boss, Erik...

For the last six weeks, I've been baying for the 2021/22 season to end, weary of watching rivals having the time of their lives.
 
But instantly, after Monday, I'm cautiously looking forward, quietly excited to see what happens next. I've no doubt the road ahead will be a tough one for Ten Hag and his players, but the only way is up and, as Erik said during his media briefing, there is plenty of potential within his squad.
 
Bring on pre-season, the transfer window and the rest of it. Let's look forward with optimism, and get right behind Erik.
 
He's made it clear he's one of us. That this is home. That we're all in it together. That it's time to make a future. So let's get cracking, and try and achieve one that's worthy of the name Manchester United. 

The opinions in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Manchester United Football Club.

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