Ten Hag admits to being influenced by former Barcelona legend as Man United rebuild gathers steam

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag on the influence of Johan Cruyff on him

Speaking to UEFA.com, Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag spoke candidly about the influence the Dutch footballing great Johan Cruyff has had on him.

Before signing for United last summer, ten Hag was the Ajax Amsterdam coach for five years, winning three league titles and two Dutch Cups. We all know Cruyff was an inspirational figure at Ajax, both while playing and managing. He also had a greater impact at Barcelona, where the likes of Pep Guardiola sincerely follow his principles.

Being from the same country and similar background in club management, ten Hag may have inherited some of the Cruyff principles in his system.

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag on the influence of Johan Cruyff on him.
Erik ten Hag on how Johan Cruyff influenced him. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Here’s what the United boss said when asked about the influence of the great man on him (h/t UEFA):

“I think a lot of Johan Cruyff. I admired him a lot from my office in Amsterdam, I had two pictures on the wall. One as a player, Johan Cruyff, and one as a coach, Johan Cruyff. He, in particular, was thinking outside the box and he brought a lot to football. Football is always about winning, but he wanted to do it in a certain way. It has to be in an adventurous way, in an entertaining way.

“That was the way he wanted to express it, how he wanted the game to be played and we really have to credit him with that, we have to value that, because football is for the people to watch. That’s why I’m so happy to be a manager at the Theatre of Dreams.”

Whatever his principles are, it is definitely working at United so far. Ten Hag has turned the fortunes of the club around in less than a year. His treatment of players and setting up teams to entertain people and win games is something to behold.

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag on the influence of Johan Cruyff on him.
Erik ten Hag has done an excellent job in his first season at Manchester United. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

For example, the Cristiano Ronaldo situation was not very good for a new manager coming in. But the way he handled that and made his stance clear showed leadership and command. His soft touch for struggling Jadon Sancho depicted his innate quality of being a good man manager when required.

After a struggling season last time around, Marcus Rashford is flying under the management of ten Hag. It cannot be a coincidence, is it?

More Manchester United News:

The team is now alive in all four competitions, although the league looks far reached at the moment. They do have a chance to sweep up a cup treble though. Let’s hope ten Hag continues to do the good work and we make the required progress to stay at the top echelons of the competition.