Why Erik ten Hag backroom reshuffle is proving to be as key as his Man United transfer business

A former centre-back who came through the ranks at PSV Eindhoven and went on to play for the likes of Motherwell and Al-Nassr, Mitchell van der Gaag spent the best years of his playing career with Maritimo.

After retiring in 2007, Van der Gaag went on to manage a number of clubs, firstly returning to former club Maritimo before moving to Portuguese side Belenenses. Following a heart scare he took a break from management.

Van der Gaag eventually found his way back into football as he took charge of Cypriot side Ermis in 2015 before moving back to the Netherlands where he started to climb the ladder of Dutch football with FC Eindhoven, Excelsior and NAC Breda.

Before moving to Ajax in 2019, Van der Gaag had never worked with Erik ten Hag. The former was appointed Jong Ajax head coach and was then promoted to the role of first-team assistant manager in 2021 where he started to work alongside now-Manchester United manager Ten Hag.

A coach known for his ability to organise defences, Van der Gaag hasn’t taken long to make his mark at Old Trafford. Last season, United only managed to keep eight clean sheets in the Premier League, a figure they’ve already matched this term.

Recruiting centre-back Lisandro Martinez, who played under both Ten Hag and Van der Gaag at Ajax, has helped strengthen the United defence, a smart move given the World Cup winner’s knowledge of how both the manager and assistant manager want to defend.

Van der Gaag has been dubbed a good developer of young talent, a facet of his coaching seen during his time at Jong Ajax. United are one of the best developers of young talent in world football, with the likes of Paul Scholes, David Beckham and, more recently, Marcus Rashford all rising through the ranks at Old Trafford.

The post Why Erik ten Hag backroom reshuffle is proving to be as key as his Man United transfer business appeared first on zululegit.

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