Former Barcelona player and current sporting director Jordi Cruyff has backed his Dutch compatriot Erik ten Hag to return 20-time English champions Manchester United back to their former glory.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Cruyff provided an in-depth postmortem of United’s problems that have hindered them in the past but insisted that under Ten Hag’s tenure the club has a real chance of returning to the summit of English football.
Cruyff pinpointed United’s poor recruitment as a major issue behind their shortcomings.
He pointed out the Red Devils’ strategy of acquiring star players without considering how they would blend in into the team as a whole.
Cruyff said, “United have always had these years a good squad, I mean if you look at their squad and player by player you can see there’s a good squad so there’s never been a lack of talent.”
“But sometimes good players don’t make a winning team and that’s part of the formula that things are getting more complicated like before you would just say, he’s a good player he fits our style of play, our DNA you know? Yeah, we’ll sign him.”
The 48-year-old explained that going forward, United must take into account how a player fits in with his teammates.
This strategy involves the club going out into the market and targetting alternatives that complement a particular player – the net effect is that team chemistry is heightened and the squad improves as a whole.
He likened United’s flawed transfer strategy to a computer game where signings occur randomly without much thought.
On Ten Hag, Cruyff opined, “In the end, it’s about finding the right balance and I think with Ten Hag, United have got a new heir. It feels as if it’s a new start and I’m talking only from the outside from what I read and I follow a bit.”
He however urged that there is a need for caution and management of expectations – issues that come about with new beginnings.
Nevertheless, he remained steadfast in his declaration that the former Ajax boss is more than capable of successfully handling the enormous task of raising a sleeping giant in United.