Last Update: February 27, 2023, 08:19 IST
As Erik ten Haag danced a graceful jig on the Wembley pitch after Manchester United’s League Cup final victory over Newcastle, it was clear that the manager’s romantic thoughts about the club had blossomed into a full-blown love affair.
Ten Haag has made a remarkable impact since leaving Ajax to take charge of United last year and Sunday’s 2-0 win against Newcastle was the latest sign that the club is back on track after a turbulent decade.
Casemiro’s header and Sven Boatman’s own goal sealed United’s first major trophy since 2017, when they won the Europa League and League Cup under Jose Mourinho.
But the trophy was secured only after keeping Newcastle at bay, with a second-half performance underlining what a difference Ten Haag has made.
Less than a year ago, United slumped to sixth place in the Premier League under interim boss Ralph Rangnick.
Revived by the demanding and disciplined Ten Haag, United have set the stage for a possible return to the kind of sustained success last seen in the Alex Ferguson era.
While Ten Haag rules with an iron fist, as he showed in winning the power struggle that forced Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure last year, the Dutchman has a sympathetic side that he rarely shows in public.
That spirit was on display when he attended the ceremony at Wembley, holding hands in a joyous dance with Lisandro Martinez and Antony, the United players who knew him best after his time at Ajax.
“We have a history, two players and me in Amsterdam. We did some dancing and I hope we can do more in the future,” Ten Haag said.
Ten Haag has no intention of letting United’s players rest on their laurels as he looks to recreate the club’s dynastic years under Ferguson.
Ten Haag said, “We have to invest and suffer every day so that we can win trophies.”
“It’s about glory and honour. If you want to win something you have to because nobody is going to bring you silverware in top football.”
‘Make your own history’
When he left the rest of his role at Ajax last May, Ten Haag knew the challenge of pulling United out of their slump was fraught with potential pitfalls.
But the chance to manage one of the most prestigious clubs in the world was too great for a football romantic like Ten Haag.
“Maybe it was a risk but I’m a bit stubborn. I just loved United. When I see the shirt, when I see the fans at Old Trafford, Sir Alex’s legacy with players known around the world, ” They said.
“That’s what we want to do. This team wants to create its own history, its own legacy. When the opportunity came along, I felt it was the right opportunity for me. I wanted to be a part of it.”
Ten Haag’s approval rating among United fans was evident from the huge cheer that greeted him for lifting the League Cup, while Ferguson also gave the Dutchman his blessing when they met for dinner last week.
“The dinner shows that we are well and it shows that he is really involved in the club. We can all learn a lot from what he did for Manchester United. It is an inspiration to all of us, Ten Haag said.
“Obviously it is an honor to share your thoughts with him on how you lead the dressing room and strategies. He’s a happy man tonight.”
Ten Haag’s only lapse of the afternoon came at the end of the post-match press conference when he almost forgot to take the League Cup trophy with him after being brought out to be shown to the media.
Nevertheless, Ten Haag kept his cool with a devious grin, joking: “It’s only a cup”.
United fans will be hoping for many more trophies to come thanks to his quiet revolutionary.
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)