Erik ten Hag can win his first piece of silverware as Manchester United manager when they face Newcastle United on Sunday.
Erik ten Hag says the constant public commentary and criticism from former Manchester United players of the team in the media is “difficult” for his players.
Former United players Gary Neville, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes Rio Ferdinand and Peter Schmeichel all work in the media nowadays and regularly scrutinise the plight of the club.
This week, Ten Hag has won plaudits from some of those former players following their Europa League triumph over Barcelona, with Schmeichel calling it “vintage Sir Alex Ferguson”, inviting comparisons to previous sides.
The Dutchman conceded that constant discussion and scrutiny weighed on the players but acknowledged they needed to be able to accept it as part of the job.
“Sometimes it’s difficult for the players of today because there are so many references to the past, a big history which former players made and I can imagine those players [say it] because they love the club, it’s part of their lives,” Ten Hag said.
“What they most love is what they most criticise often, so I can understand, but sometimes it affects the players, it’s clear, but I also think it’s part of our job, you have to live with criticism and see it as a gift to do better.
“They want to help you and as a player for Manchester United, you know you have to perform, win games and trophies. That can only be possible with togetherness, you can’t do it on your own, you need the team to perform.”
Ten Hag added that the only way to handle United’s trophy-laden past was to be part of a successful future. United can claim their first piece of silverware under Ten Hag when they face Newcastle United in Sunday’s EFL Cup final.
“That’s the point, you’re a player for Manchester United and you have to create your own legacy, therefore you have to win trophies and we have that opportunity on Sunday,” he said.
“After Sunday, we are still in three competitions and good opportunities to win something.”