Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has openly declared that playing for the iconic club is a tougher challenge than at "almost any other team." This revelation comes in the wake of Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek's struggles at Old Trafford, culminating in his loan move to Eintracht Frankfurt this month.
Tough Journey at Man Utd for Van de Beek
Van de Beek signed for £35m from Ajax in 2020, faced a challenging stint at Manchester United. Hindered by injuries, the 26-year-old midfielder failed to replicate his Ajax form, prompting a loan move to Everton last year, which was shortlived due to thigh and knee injuries. He recently secured a loan move to the Bundesliga. Ten Hag, shedding light on the situation, emphasized the impact of injuries on Van de Beek's performance, making it clear that he "wasn't the player he was at Ajax."
Speaking on Van de Beek and Man Utd, as reported by BBC Sport, Ten Hag said:
"From the first moment I came in here at Manchester United, he wasn't the player he was at Ajax because he was injured. So many times he was not available and then he struggled for a long time to recover from that injury."
Insights from Ten Hag
The Dutch manager disclosed the complexities of Van de Beek's journey at United, citing injury setbacks and fierce competition for his position. Ten Hag expressed confidence that a loan move would offer the Dutch midfielder a chance to revive his career.
"That[injury setback] is probably the main reason why he was not playing. We decided for a loan in the summer but it didn't come and then his opportunities are few because also we make appointments and we make agreements with players and contract players in that position. The competition was high."
The High Pressure at Man Utd
In response to concerns about players being wary of joining Manchester United, especially after Van de Beek's experience, Ten Hag acknowledged the intense pressure at the club. He asserted that playing for Man United is more challenging than at "almost any other team" due to the consistently high expectations and scrutiny.
"That is always on those players and how much confidence you have in your capabilities. But I can tell you one thing - the Premier League is tough. Man United, that is tough to play there because it's more easy to play in almost any other team than Man United because the pressure is that high always."- continued the 53-year-old manager
"You have to deal with that. But if you have confidence in yourself, this is the best challenge and this is definitely the best club you want to be at as a player. It depends on player to player, and it depends especially on the character of the player, their personality."
In conclusion, Erik ten Hag's candid remarks provide a glimpse into the challenges faced by players at Manchester United. As the club navigates potential player exits during the January transfer window, including Jadon Sancho, Ten Hag's honesty about the demanding nature of playing at Old Trafford adds a layer of insight for both players and fans.
Manchester United next face Wigan Athletic in the third round tie of the FA Cup on Monday.