Erik ten Hag’s appointment at Manchester United was met by fanfare and supporters have been eager to watch their side under the Dutchman after a difficult season – their worst in the Premier League era.
Ten Hag made his name in Ajax after sensationally reaching the Champions League semi-finals with the Amsterdam side, eliminating champions Real Madrid and Juventus in the process.
Ajax’s fearless attacking football caught the eye of onlookers and that style has become synonymous with Ten Hag ever since. Now, in his first pre-season at United, defender Raphael Varane has admitted that his new manager has made his philosophy ‘absolutely clear’ during the off-season.
“We know exactly how we want to play,” Varane said after starring in the 4-0 win against Liverpool, according to Sky Sports.
“The manager explained very well what we have to do and it’s absolutely clear. So we know we have to be very fit because it’s a very physical way to play.
“We are happy with the result obviously but we know we have to work very hard still to be ready for the start of the season.
“We’re working a lot, so we try to be absolutely ready for the beginning of the season. This is just the start of the pre-season so it’s just the beginning, but we know exactly where we want to go.”
Varane is one of several players in desperate need of a good summer, having failed to impress in his first season at United. Injuries didn’t help either. He is likely to be one of the first names on the teamsheet under Ten Hag.
There’s a long way to go before United are even near the finished product but the first signs have been promising. As much as Varane needs a good season, Ten Hag is equally dependent on the French centre-back.
Implementing a philosophy on a new group of players is always difficult and it may prove to be even more challenging for Ten Hag, with the current squad deprived of any advanced tactics for so long.
United face Brighton in their Premier League curtain-raiser in just three weeks and by then, he will have hope to have made some headway in adding some identity to the side.