Erik ten Hag has opened up on his time working with Pep Guardiola, and his attempts to shackle Erling Haaland in todays Manchester derby.
After a dreadful start to the season in which they were humiliated in their opening two outings, Ten Hag’s men have enjoyed a resurgence of form to win all four of their subsequent Premier League matches, beating Liverpool and Arsenal along the way.
Next up is the sternest examination of the lot, a trip across Manchester to take on Pep Guardiola’s unbeaten City side who are looking to make it three league titles on the bounce.
Ten Hag worked under Pep Guardiola during their respective periods at Bayern Munich before the Dutchman forged his own managerial career in his native Netherlands, and the United boss was asked what he learned from his time working under the now Man City manager.
”First of all, the most important thing is that no two people are the same,” he said at his pre-match press conference. “I have to stick by myself and then I learn a lot from many human beings in football. Especially, in regards to the top coaches, I admire Pep Guardiola, not only because he is successful but because he is doing it in a certain way which really attracts people to football. That is a really big reward.”
Ten Hag admitted that it is an advantage to have worked under Guardiola when it comes to preparing to face him, though said that both coaches have developed since their time together in Bavaria.
”Of course, we both think that we know everything about each other, but when we were together it was already eight years ago and as a manager, one of things you have to always do is develop. I hope he did, as I know I did as well.
‘’We have both changed in the right way but I’m sure he did and I did as well. If he is not the best manager, then for sure he is one of them. For me he is, but there is in this moment much more as well. That is clear.”
One man who is set to have a key role in determining the result at the Etihad is Erling Haaland, the striker having netted a barely believable 14 goals in just nine games since joining the Premier League champions.
The bullish striker will come up against the diminutive figure of Lisandro Martinez, though the Argentine was able to shackle the Norwegian when they met in last seasons Champions League, with Ten Hag’s Ajax running out 4-0 winners in their group stage meeting in Amsterdam.
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”He will take some of the habits, but it is a totally different situation. Two different teams, two different approaches, different situations. So you cannot compare this,’’ said ten Hag.
Meanwhile, in Jadon Sancho, United also have a player who has played alongside Haaland during his time at Dortmund, and Ten Hag revealed he will speak to the forward in his preparations for the game.
”Of course when you have a player who played in the past with a player, you ask him,” he revealed. “I also think it is our job in advance to analyse as a team and if individual players have huge contribution to the result, we have to do our job and that is what I am doing with my staff and players because they can give us more details.”
Ten Hag did however admit that he is an admirer of the 22-year-old goal machine, but reminded his players that his side are playing the entire Manchester City side, and not just their number nine.
‘’I like his attitude,’’ he said of Haaland. ‘’How he is on the pitch. He is direct, his life is about goals and he is direct to the goal of the opponent. He can also create goals.
‘’But once again, I respect him but for us on Sunday we are not playing against Haaland, we are playing against Man City and for us, it’s not about Man City. It is about us and them being an opponent.”
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