Raimond van der Gouw says Erik ten Hag faces “massive challenge” at Man Utd

Forget the Champions League – Raimond van der Gouw just wants to see a group of players who know what a privilege it is for Manchester United.

The club fell apart in the second half of last season and lost five of their last eight games. They finished the season in sixth place.

A distant 24 points behind champions Manchester City. For United fans who grew up watching Sir Alex Ferguson’s side dominate English football it was tough watch.

For players like van der Gouw, who spent six years at Old Trafford under the all-conquering Scot, it was equally so. He believes something has to give under his fellow Dutchman, Erik ten Hag. And sooner rather than later.

“What can we expect at the club next season? That’s a very easy question that’s very hard to answer,” says van der Gouw, who has recently left his job as goalkeeping coach at PSV Eindhoven. “I don’t know what went on last season but my first hope is that there will be a team on the pitch.

“Not just 11 players. We need to see a team that wants to work for each other and wants to work hard. They also need to show energy and enjoyment.

“I cannot imagine that the players who play for Manchester United don’t want to be there. There must be something going on, there’s always a reason why something like this happens.

“There doesn’t seem to be a connection with this group of players, there’s clearly something wrong. You don’t get a result like we saw on the last day of the season (a 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace ) if everything is going well and everyone is happy.






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MatchDay Images Limited)

“It’s a massive challenge for the new man. It’s not that he can’t do it, but you have other clubs who are in a much better position that Manchester United.

“You have Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal suddenly look like they’re capable of challenging again, Chelsea have new owners, Spurs, Newcastle are coming up with big money. It will be a very hard job for Erik but it’s a nice challenge, a good challenge.”

Failure to lift silverware last time out means the club have now gone five years without a trophy – a drought not seen since the early 1970s. Manchester United went from European Champions in 1968 to relegation from the top flight in 1974.

No-one is suggesting that the current under-performing crop will suffer the same fate. But as the summer kicks-off, it still appears that ten Hag’s task is one of the toughest assignments in world football. That said, after performing miracles with Ajax, anything is possible.






Raimond van der Gouw recently returned to Old Trafford to play in the legends game


Raimond van der Gouw recently returned to Old Trafford to play in the legends game
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Manchester United via Getty Imag)

“Everyone loves a manager who brings a winning team on the pitch,” says van der Gouw. “I think Erik will do a good job. He’ll try and change it around and I think you’ll see a different Manchester United next season.

“Ajax have a very good team and very good players. They play like a team. He won a lot of trophies there and did very well in Europe. No-one expected Ajax to play a role in the Champions League but look at what they did In the Champions League.

“They got to the semi-final (in 2019) and very nearly went all the way to the final. He changed everything around at Ajax, the players looked like they wanted to play for him.”

One position Manchester United don’t have to worry about is the goalkeeper. David de Gea was the club’s Player of the Season and, at times, was repelling teams almost on his own as the club’s misfiring defence went AWOL.

“It’s very important to have a goalkeeper like that – it’s one less thing for him to have to worry about,” says the Dutchman.

Which is lucky. Because his current list of other concerns is as lengthy as United’s wait for silverware.

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