Erik Ten Hag has vowed to end Manchester City and Liverpool’s domination of English football after officially taking over as Manchester United manager.
The 52-year-old former Ajax boss was unveiled at Old Trafford and immediately set his sights on breaking the stranglehold of United’s two greatest rivals.
Asked if that was possible while Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp remain in charge, Ten Hag said: ‘I think so, yeah. Liverpool and Manchester City play fantastic football, but you will always see an era come to an end — I am looking forward to a battle with them.
‘There are similarities with both clubs (United and Ajax). Both are used to having success, and that is the biggest similarity.
‘It’s all about winning titles. In Ajax, the project was to be back on top in Holland. When I started, PSV were on top and we changed it. In the last four years, we were the No 1 continually. It was important also to finish in my last season as No 1. There were PSV and Feyenoord who were huge competitors, but finally we won the battle and I’m very happy about that.’
Ten Hag dismissed suggestions that he has taken a gamble by leaving Amsterdam, as well as a warning from former Old Trafford boss Louis van Gaal that he shouldn’t join a ‘commercial club’ like United.
‘I have heard that, but I draw my own line,’ he 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. Every club is commercial and needs revenues to be at the top.
‘I don’t see it as a risk. This club has a great history and now let’s make a future. What we’re thinking is, “this is a project and it takes time”. But I also know at this club and at other clubs like Ajax and Bayern Munich, that at the top there is never time.
‘I was at Ajax for four and a half years. We had a great time, but now it’s a new start and we have to build it up from the bottom.’
Ten Hag joins United at the end of the club’s worst Premier League season, but vowed to bring winning, entertaining football back to Old Trafford.
‘The current situation is obviously not that good,’ he admitted. ‘It’s a big challenge. I want to build a team who are battling for each other, who are unified and who will get results.
‘I have high demands on my players. I expect them to fight and give 100 per cent. ‘Also, we are playing in the Theatre of Dreams. We want to entertain. But in the end, the intention is to play fantastic football. If we can’t do that, we still have to win.
‘I will give everything necessary to get Man United back where they belong.’
Ten Hag’s No 2 at Ajax, Mitchell van der Gaag, and Steve McClaren were confirmed as his assistants on Monday.
The Dutchman won’t speak to the players until they report for pre-season on June 27, although a number will have left by then.
The new manager indicated his desire to keep this season’s 24-goal top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, but seemed less certain about Harry Maguire remaining as captain.
‘Next season is a different season,’ said Ten Hag. ‘He did a great job and he is a great player. I’m looking forward to working with him.’
Meanwhile, United co-chairman Avram Glazer promised to back Ten Hag in the transfer market this summer as he embarks on an overhaul of the squad. ‘We have always spent the money that’s there to buy new players,’ said Glazer.
‘We are going to work hard to make next season a better season for everyone.’