Erik ten Hag insists the criticism of former players such as Gary Neville will not be allowed to ‘influence’ his Manchester United dressing room. The incoming Red Devils boss is facing a major summer rebuild at Old Trafford, having guided Ajax to the Eredivisie title in his final season in Amsterdam.
United have endured another miserable campaign, and have seen their top-four hopes fade away with an abysmal finish to the season. West Ham could yet leapfrog the Red Devils into sixth spot, with Ralf Rangnick’s side facing a decisive final-day clash at Crystal Palace.
Ten Hag has terminated his Ajax contract early to get a headstart on work at Old Trafford, and is expected to be in the stands at Selhurst Park. However, the Dutchman will not take charge of the side with interim boss Rangnick overseeing one more match before moving into a consultancy role.
The Red Devils’ plight this season has been the subject of regular criticism from pundits and former players alike, with scrutiny intensifying in the wake of heavy defeats to rivals Liverpool and Manchester City. Sky Sports pundit Neville has branded his former side as a ‘disgrace’ and ‘broken’ in recent weeks, with Rangnick’s side picking up just two wins in their last eight matches.
Fellow ‘Class of 92’ star Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand have also been vocal in their criticism of both the team and the club as a whole. Scholes even suggested ten Hag would benefit from an eighth-placed finish so as to avoid European football next season, while Ferdinand called for the club to ban Rangnick from media duties to stop him airing ‘dirty laundry’.
Ten Hag has now spoken at length about the job facing him in Manchester, and admits the criticism from former players has an ‘influence’. However, the 52-year-old insists it will not impact upon his dressing room, and he is confident he will be able to handle the scrutiny that comes with such a high-profile role.
The incoming United boss told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf: “That has an impact, but it should never have an influence in the dressing room. Maybe the criticism is fiercer there. The club simply has a bigger fan base and more reach than Ajax, because England is much bigger, the Premier League is much bigger and basically everything is much bigger.’
“Compared to the Netherlands it’s factor two, three, four or maybe even more. Fortunately, I’ve been getting more and more baggage on how to deal with certain forces.’’