The breaking news this morning is that Mitchell van der Gaag will be joining current Ajax manager and co-worker Erik ten Hag at Manchester United next season.
Van der Gaag, or “VDG” as he will likely become more well known as throughout the United fan base, is fluent in five languages: English, French, Dutch, Portuguese & Spanish.
The 50-year-old central defender is clearly highly rated by manager-to-be Ten Hag, who ultimately persuaded van der Gaag to join him at Manchester United, despite an attempt from Ajax to keep him at the club.
Mitchell van der Gaag has previously described his management style (quotes via the Mirror) during an interview in Holland.
“I used to have discussions with the whole team, but as field coach I am moving away from that more and more,” Van der Gaag said. “Players increasingly prefer individual conversations. That takes a lot more time and energy, but I have the feeling that I can reach my players better that way.“
Throughout this interview, Van der Gaag clearly demonstrates that he understands that as football develops, so do styles of coaching and management and that to stay current and get the best out of your players, coaches need to develop with it.
“I sit down with players every week and we look at how he has played together with the footage. As a result, I can demand much more and you also get more sense of responsibility from the player.
“They can hide in a group. It’s not just fair weather conversations either. If I’m not satisfied, I’ll say so. Then everyone will know where he stands.“
This is a point that I’m sure many Manchester United fans will be relieved to hear, as many have had complaints that some players often hide from the ball during games – for example Scott McTominay against Leicester City.
“I talk to everyone. If I don’t, and suddenly we have to call on a substitute, I don’t want to be paying attention to that player for the first time. You don’t want a player to think ‘ah, he suddenly has time for me, now I am suddenly important.’ I am naturally quite calm – but nor do I run away from a conflict.“
With Mitchell van der Gaag and Erik ten Hag most likely taking the helm at Manchester United next summer, they will have a lot to do with regards to sorting the club out… but it sounds like Van der Gaag has the necessary skills to make it happen.
Ajax take on PSV Eindhoven in the KNVB Cup final at 5pm BST today.