Erik ten Hag has an empathizer in countryman and World Cup hero Johan Neeskens. In Mumbai to announce the World Coaches Program, the 72-year-old Neeskens said that Ten Hag’s recent woes as Manchester United coach were understandable. (More Football News)
“That [the struggle] is normal,” the craggy-faced, deep-voiced Neeskens told Outlook at Cooperage Stadium, just a few hours before United take on Liverpool in the Premier League. “You come to a new team, your superstar (Cristiano Ronaldo) is not around, he was home because of family questions or whatever. For more than two weeks he is not around, and then he comes back. You still don’t know what exactly he wants. The team is still looking for new players. Now Casemiro has come. They are also going for Antony from Ajax. It doesn’t make it easy for the coach when you don’t have the team completed.”
Neeskens played in two consecutive World Cup finals for Holland - 1974 and 1978. They finished runners-up on both occasions, but won fans over with their attractive, Total Football style of play, especially in 1974. In that year’s final, Neeskens famously put Holland ahead against West Germany with a penalty in the second minute of the game.
The World Coaches Program, designed by the Dutch football federation, will conduct courses for coaches in Kerala and Mumbai, in collaboration with their India partners, Acosa Sports and Infrastructure.
Neeskens did not comment on the Glazer family, whose unpopular ownership of Manchester United has displeased fans and brought the club bad press for several years. With the team struggling, Glazer hatred has intensified in Manchester.
“I see only the games,” Neeskens said. “I’m not interested in who’s the owner. It’s not my business. I only see the team playing. What happens behind the curtains, I’m not interested in and I don’t want to know, because I cannot have any influence either.”
United have lost both their matches this season. Worse, they have scored only once and let in six goals. Ten Hag would be glad to know, however, that there is ample time to rescue the season, and that some, like Neeskens, understand what he is up against.