Erik ten Hag has taken charge of Manchester United’s under-21 team to ease the path for young players to the first team.
Ten Hag was known for mentoring young players in his previous role at Ajax and the Dutchman was keen to repeat this in his first season at Old Trafford.
Alejandro Garnacho broke into the first team, while Kobbi Mainu and Zidane Iqbal were named to the bench during the holiday season.
Ten Hag, who coached Bayern Munich’s second team early in his career, believes that before he took over at the end of last season, United’s youth team was neglected.
“For me, collaboration between all the different departments is critical to building the right culture at the club,” said Ten Hag.
“Like at Ajax, when I came to Manchester United, the reserve team was isolated.
“He wasn’t part of the academy anymore, but he wasn’t part of the first team either. I changed it immediately, just as I did when I entered Amsterdam.
“At Ajax, the manager was responsible for the reserve team. Only in this way could I influence the influx of young talented players into the first team.
“Of course, I still give the managers a free hand, but I also give them direction, saying, for example: “I want this player to start playing in this position.”
“So I have the ultimate responsibility for how the second team performs and for the flow of players that moves from the reserve team to the first team.”
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 31, 2022
Ten Haag explained that the quality of his coaching staff, which included assistant Mitchell van der Gaag, allowed him to take a backseat in many training sessions and focus on United’s overall approach.
“I told [director of football] John Murtaugh talked about this at length before I came to Manchester and he arranged for me to work in the same way here,” he said.
“In the Netherlands, I took a step towards taking on more of a managerial position at Ajax. If there are no competent people around you, you cannot delegate authority and will still do everything yourself.
“But if you have competent people, you have to involve them in your vision and then delegate tasks. An example is the training process with the senior team.
“I know it’s in good hands with Mitchell. I can often make a general overview. Then, as a manager, you will see much more than if you were working on the exercises yourself.”