Pep Guardiola might be concerned about Erik ten Hag’s honest Manchester United prediction – Steven Railston

The journalists in attendance on that afternoon agreed that Ten Hag, who shook hands with reporters upon arrival, had made a good first impression, but the jury remained out regarding whether he would be a success in Manchester.

Ten Hag&aposs previous management roles were at Go Ahead Eagles, Bayern Munich II, Utrecht and Ajax. It&aposs not an ordinary path walked to becoming the manager of the biggest club in England, but the 53-year-old is already proving he is something different.

There have been just 10 months since that press conference and all of the journalists who were in attendance that day would now unanimously agree the Dutchman has been a resounding success, as he&aposs exceeded expectations.

On the back of the worst season at the club for decades, Ten Hag has rejuvenated the dressing room and won the Carabao Cup. United are currently third in the Premier League and their ascension this season has been remarkable.

It&aposs all been made possible by one man: Ten Hag. There have been four permanent managers – David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – since 2013 and yet none have been as universally popular as him.

The players have responded to his disciplinarian approach and that has been key to ending the worst trophy drought at Old Trafford for over 40 years. Sunday&aposs result at Wembley was special and it has the potential to be a springboard elsewhere.

United remain in contention for the Europa League, the FA Cup and arguably even the Premier League title, depending on who you speak with, and that is an achievement in itself.

Ten Hag wants to deliver silverware, as he outlined in his first press conference, but this season was supposed to be a transitional campaign, a year in which he was working under reduced pressure to mould the team into his vision. But instead of making mistakes, he&aposs made memories for supporters and his first season has been outstanding so far.

After the trainwreck of last season, in which United recorded their lowest points total since the inaugural Premier League campaign, the achievement of winning a trophy and securing Champions League football can&apost be understated.

Yet just two days after that Carabao Cup triumph in London, Ten Hag told reporters at Carrington that his players were &aposgetting back to work&apos and that answer, coming from a manager who wants more success, was hardly a surprise.

Ten Hag is the first United manager to win a trophy since 2017 and he is ensuring the club is taken seriously by rivals again. He was even asked about ending the monopoly of Manchester City and Liverpool in his first press conference and his response, at the time, felt like he was toeing the party line. “In this moment I admire them. I admire them both, Ten Hag said.

They play really fantastic football, both Liverpool and Manchester City. But you will always see that an era can come to an end. I am looking forward to battling with them and I am sure all the other clubs in the Premier League will want to do that.”

Ten Hag promised that &aposeras come to an end&apos and that comment no longer seems ambitious or far-fetched. Liverpool look in desperate need of a major rebuild, Man City have not been at their best while United have clearly improved.