Erik ten Hag has outlined his Manchester United vision on his first day in the job and warned the club’s underperforming stars that “good is not good enough”.
The 52-year-old was announced as interim manager Ralf Rangnick’s successor last month on a three-year deal with the option of a further 12 months.
After guiding Ajax to a third Eredivisie title in his four full seasons in charge, Ten Hag ended his contract with the Dutch giants early to start work with United ahead of schedule.
Ten Hag was in attendance for Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace, which ensured United finished sixth in the Premier League and with their lowest-ever points tally.
United have not won the title since Alex Ferguson’s final season in 2012-13, though they did finish as runners-up under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the 2020-21 campaign.
Following a fifth campaign without any silverware – their worst trophy drought in 40 years – Ten Hag understands the size of the task on his hands to transform United’s fortunes.
“First, we must accept the current situation,” he told United’s website on Monday. “But we must also know one year ago, this club, this team was second in the Premier League.
“There’s potential and now it’s up to us to get that out. It’s a process, it will take time but I’m convinced we will come to that point where we get success.
“We have to work hard and it has to be based on the right philosophy and strategy.”
He added: “I have high expectations from myself and that is also what I demand from my squad. They have to co-operate together and they have to give every day their best.
“And I would say, for me, good is not good enough. We have to do better.”
To coincide with Ten Haag’s first official day in charge, United also confirmed the appointments of Mitchell van der Gaag and Steve McClaren as assistant coaches.
Just a week on from taking charge of Ajax for the final time, Ten Haag is now relishing the opportunity to manage one of the world’s most prestigious clubs.
Asked why he was so eager to get going at Old Trafford, Ten Hag said: “Before a season, you have to prepare and when you are in a club, I will say it’s a continual process.
“You’re working on next season and still you are in the current season, but we didn’t have that time.
“And now we close the season and I’m coming over to meet people and to roll out the strategy, to prepare pre-season, prepare staff and prepare a squad.
“First, we have a break. We will start pre-season on June 27 and I will get a few of the squad, [a few] of the individual players.
“In certain positions we want to renew the squad, but as I said, this squad was second in the league one year ago, so there is potential and I’m really looking forward to co-operating with the squad.”
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 23, 2022
Rangnick bows out having lost five of his final eight league games in charge, compared to just two losses in his first 16 matches at the helm.
Successor Ten Hag is not put off, though, and he has made it clear that he intends to bring an attractive brand of football to Old Trafford.
“I really look forward to doing this job, at this club with massive history, and we want to restore it where it belongs,” he said.
“First of all, we want to make the fans proud. Second, of course we are in this moment, the current situation is obviously not that good. It’s a big challenge.
“I want to build and construct a team who are battling for each other, who are unified and who will get results.
“Also we are playing in the Theatre of Dreams. We want to entertain. But in the end, the intention is to play fantastic football. If we can’t play fantastic football, we still have to win.”