ERIK TEN HAG wants to turn Old Trafford into the home of the beautiful game but will win ugly if he has to. Manchester United’s new boss kicks o
ERIK TEN HAG wants to turn Old Trafford into the home of the beautiful game but will win ugly if he has to.
Manchester United’s new boss kicks off his Old Trafford reign against Brighton today, aiming to turn the fallen 20-time champions into top dogs once again.
But the manager from the nation which gave the world ‘total football’ is equally determined to do it in style.
The Dutchman may be a Premier League new boy but he is well aware winning alone has never been enough at United.
And he is relishing the chance to put smiles back on the faces of long-suffering fans as much as points on the board.
Ten Hag insisted: “That’s why I am here and I like it. United want to win but win in a certain way — pro-active, brave and with adventure.
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“I think that belongs to the culture here and we want to bring that in.
“Me, the staff and the players have to do everything to bring success back on to the pitch.
“Every day you have to bring the maximum of what you can, then you will develop individually and as a team.”
Yet Ten Hag is only too aware the hallmark of a successful side is the ability to grind out results when you are not playing well.
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He said: “If you cannot win in a good way, an entertaining way, that is the mentality and the attitude we have to bring.
“Sometimes there will be games when you will not play well but you still have to win.”
Ten Hag has previous for dragging sleeping giants back to their feet, after turning a young Ajax side into one of the most exciting in Europe.
But doing likewise at Old Trafford, on the back of last term’s dismal Premier League campaign, is another matter entirely.
Cristiano Ronaldo wants out — something United bosses insist will not happen — and there is still no sign of sealing a deal for top transfer target Frenkie de Jong.
On top of that, supporters plan another protest against the Glazer owners before the upcoming game with Brighton, with feelings as heated as ever.
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It has made for a stormy start to Ten Hag’s tenure — and he has urged fans to turn Old Trafford into a bear pit for opponents instead.
He added: “It’s clear this stadium is meant to bring over a fight, so I hope for good co-operation.
“We know we have to give the example on the pitch. But if we have the right attitude — and by that I mean hard work and being brave — then the fans will like it and it will bring the fight back.
“Every game is a challenge so we have to get the best out of it. There will be setbacks but we’ll have to deal with that.
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“That is the attitude we all need. And when you show it and have a good plan, in the end you will achieve success. I am 100 per cent confident of that.
“I see the potential in many players in this squad and, yes, I am convinced I can develop the team. You cannot change the past but you can change the future.”