Read our exclusive Q&A with Donny van de Beek
Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek tells us that his return to the Reds this summer feels like a new start for him.
The Dutch midfielder spent the second half of last season on loan with fellow Premier League club Everton and came back to United in the summer, reuniting with his former Ajax boss, and new Reds manager, Erik ten Hag in the process.
Donny has enjoyed the first few months of working with his countryman once more and displayed his enthusiasm for a fresh chapter in his career, during an interview first seen in the Real Sociedad issue of United Review, our official matchday programme.
The 25-year-old has been sidelined with an injury for our last two matches but will no doubt be keen to get on the pitch again as soon as possible.
Off it, he's also become a father recently and was asked about that by our reporter Joe Ganley, as the first of several topics in the recent sit-down interview that you can read here...
This has been a big year so far in terms of personal news, Donny, as you became a father – how do you feel after such a major, life-changing event?
“Obviously it’s the best feeling that you can have, to be a father. Both me and my girlfriend are enjoying it, so we are really happy now to have her [my daughter] in our family.”
Being a dad now, plus being back at United after a spell at Everton, does that give you a feeling of a new start?
“Yes, of course. New chances, and a new season as well. I’m happy to be back at the club, at this great club, so I’m excited.”
“Yes, of course. I’m really working hard for it, so I’m positive. I’ll do my best. The last part of last season, I was injured, so I missed a lot. I could feel that in the first few weeks of pre-season, but now I’ve started to feel better and better. So I’m really positive.”
We’ve got a new manager, of course, who you know well. What was your reaction when you found out Erik ten Hag would be taking over?
“He will be really good for the club. I think in terms of the way the club is, and how they want to play, he’s a good mix for what they want as a manager. I’m really looking forward to it. We had big success at Ajax at that time – the semi-final of the Champions League, and we won trophies. So it was a special time. Now we are here, with a new chapter and a new challenge, and of course we want to do the same here.”
Obviously you’ve seen his process before, and the impact it can have on a team – are we seeing signs in recent games that his message is starting to come across to the group?
“Yes. I still think we can do much better and we can improve, but we signed a few new players – top-class players – so of course they will help the team to improve. We train really hard every day, and we put a lot of time into it. I believe that we will do better and better every week, and we’re pushing for that.”
"Yeah, I think for not only the coach, but for everyone, it’s really important. We have to do it as a team. Everyone is trying to be close to each other, to be a team. I think the Liverpool game was a good example of a team result. I think we can even play much better, but we played a good game and we did it as a team. This is the way we have to do it this season.”
There have been some exciting new signings made over the summer, including some players you might know from Dutch football, plus Christian Eriksen and Casemiro – how impressed have you been by the club’s transfer moves?
“I know them already, as a player. Some of the players I played against – I played against Christian, against Casemiro as well, with Ajax. Licha [Lisandro], I played together with him. So I know what they are capable of and they are really good players, so they will help us for sure. They are nice people, but they are also team players. I think this is important, to work hard together. As people, they fit very well with the players we have.”
The manager has a lot of options in midfield now, doesn’t he? Can you see different combinations evolving for different opposition?
“Yeah, and I think we need it, because it will be a tough season. Everyone wants to play, but you have to show it and you need to improve yourself every day to be in the first XI. A club like United needs many options and needs a big squad to play and to have a good season. I switch sometimes – sometimes I play in the ‘10’, sometimes in the ‘8’, in Ajax sometimes I play in the ‘6’, so I can play in different positions. There’s been some great defending, in particular, from back to front.”
Is it fair to say that the manager has been focusing on energy and hard work as much as the tactical side?
“Yeah. I think it’s all important, but energy is so important. I think that’s the first thing that’s important: the spirit and the aggression. You need to have the will to win.”
“That will help everyone. Having lots of options will keep everyone sharp, and for this we need lots of good players. I think it’s great to play many games. I love it when we play after a few days [another] game. I prefer more to have games than training sessions, so definitely I like it!”
Given the quality that the manager has brought in, plus the numbers already in the squad, does it breed a culture where everyone knows they have to take their chance when they get it?
“Exactly, but that’s the way it should always be in a big club, and we need this to be successful and to have a strong team. I think it’s really good that we have it now.”