Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag made an unnanounced visit to watch the Under-21s in their game against West Ham on Friday night.
Ten Hag’s trip came right off the back of his triumph in Moldova against Sheriff where his side won 2-0.
In attendance at the Altrincham’s J Davidson Stadium, the 52-year-old was accompanied by his assistant Mitchell van der Gaag, Darren Fletcher, and Andy O’ Boyle.
United’s youngsters played out a 1-1 draw with the senior team boss in the stands.
🧐 Erik ten Hag, Mitchell van der Gaag, Darren Fletcher, and Andy O’Boyle were all in attendance for the #PL2 game against West Ham Under-21s today.
— United Ways (@UtdWays) September 16, 2022
U-21s manager Mark Dempsey, who along with his players was unaware of the Dutchman’s intention to visit, hailed the manager for his wonderful and encouraging gesture.
Dempsey told The Athletic, “It shows he is interested and it’s motivational for the boys and the supporters.”
“I think it’s really encouraging for all concerned that he is here with his staff. It sends a positive vibe.”
On his players’ reaction to Ten Hag’s presence and how that impacted them. “I think one or two of our players went under if I’m honest, but it’s good for him to come and see us and it’s healthy for everyone at the football club.”
“He showed a vested interest in what we are doing and it’s fabulous for us that he does because at a lot of football clubs, the academy is the academy and the first team is the first team.”
Dempsey backed some of United’s young stars to force themselves into Ten Hag’s plans but highlighted the final decision would rest with his prominent visitor.
“The manager will decide and he will have a look at them and make his mind up.”
“It’s a big jump from this level and we have a young group so it’s an even bigger jump. But you never know.”
“If they are good enough, I’m sure he will put them in because he has done it before at Ajax. They are not frightened to put young players in.”
Certainly, United’s young stars will only be uplifted by Ten Hag’s vested interest in them. Many will be encouraged by his act and will only intensify their efforts so as to fashion an opportunity into the senior setup.