Erik ten Hag has rejected Louis van Gaal’s comments about the commercial side of Manchester United overriding the footballing ambition.
Ten Hag is the latest coach in the Old Trafford hot seat looking to turn the tide at the club for good. His fellow Dutchman Van Gaal was one of the five managers United turned to before Ten Hag following Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013.
Van Gaal won the FA Cup in 2016 and Jose Mourinho won the Europa League in 2017.
Nevertheless, the Red Devils have rarely looked like being on a path to long-term stability and progression since Ferguson departed.
In March, Van Gaal claimed that Man Utd are a “commercial club”, with off-field revenues a bigger priority than on-field achievements.
Speaking in his first press conference in charge, though, Ten Hag took his fellow countryman to task.
“I have heard [Van Gaal’s comments], but I draw my own line,” the 52-year-old said. “I’m convinced this will not be the case.
“I spoke with the directors about it. Football is one, two and three at this club and every club these days is commercial.
“Every club needs it, needs the revenues to be at the top, to do it is necessary but football is one, two, three at this club.”
With footballing progress in mind, Man Utd’s first task is to get back into the Champions League. Following a sixth-placed Premier League finish, they are in the Europa League next season.
Ten Hag will need new signings to get his latest project off the ground and club advisor Ralf Rangnick could help with those.
The interim boss has moved upstairs and will now work with the club from afar on a range of issues.
Ten Hag on Rangnick, Man Utd role
But asked if he could work with Rangnick, Ten Hag said: “That is on the club.”
“It’s part of my analysis, I analyse by myself, I observe and I speak with a lot of people, but I will draw my own line,” he added.
“I’m still in the process of analysing to set conclusions, I’m looking forward to working with these players. The season before, this squad finished second in the league, so it has potential.
“I think if we improve, if we can work with them, we can get more out of them than this season.”
Man Utd need to focus
United have struggled to maintain their promising signs of progress when they have arrived.
While Ole Gunnar Solskjaer masterminded the second-placed Premier League finish, Man Utd have dropped off massively from those standards.
As such, Ten Hag needs to take his time and really root out all the problems at Old Trafford before identifying fixes.
Mistakes both on and off the field have cost the club this term and Ten Hag’s move to United feels more crucial than any of the other managers that have succeeded Ferguson.