Monday's debut press conference gave the fans and media their first real insight into the mindset of the Dutchman. Hes already conducted several meetings with United officials in London ahead of an expected summer overhaul.
Ten Hag watched his new club lose 1-0 to Crystal Palace on Sunday. The 52-year-old is letting his players rest before revealing his intentions for them after their break – although hes seemingly already permitted the exits of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams.
Its a move hes been praised for, while supporters are also upbeat about the dugout arrivals of ex-Ajax assistant Mitchell van der Gaag and former Old Trafford No.2 Steve McClaren, who was Sir Alex Fergusons right-hand man between 1999 and 2001.
Speaking in his first press conference, Ten Hag reiterated that he has “confidence in the project” and “good people around” the club. The Manchester Evening News understands that four coaches are set to be moved on from Old Trafford – including Mike Phelan.
This may be his first mistake. Whether it is Phelans own choice or the decision of the club, Ten Hag could do a lot worse than to keep him on, even if its only for another 12 months.
Phelan has spent 20 years at United over numerous spells and was part of many of the clubs successes in the 2000s under Sir Alex Ferguson. His experience could have proven to be vital as the club steps into a new era.
Former defender Rio Ferdinand said McClarens appointment was a good move due to his winning know-how. Phelan also falls into that category.
Ten Hag must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater as he continues his internal shake-up. Phelan knows what it takes to win silverware; three Premier League titles, two League Cups and a Club World Cup must not be ignored.
That said, it must also be noted that he has been unable to stop the rot at Old Trafford since returning under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in 2018 after stints away at Norwich, Hull and Central Coast Mariners of Australia. But the cracks started to appear after he left in 2013, so blaming him for the slump that followed would be unfair.
Phelan could well have been a valued member of the backroom staff during Ten Hag's settling in period. The Dutchman knows he must have knowledgeable, reliable and successful voices around him if he is to build United back up to their previous heights.
After training the likes of Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo – among many other heroes – Phelan's track record is undeniable. Allowing him to leave without attempting to utilise his expertise could be a huge mistake.
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