EPL

Gullit 'pleasantly surprised' by Ten Hag's impact at Man Utd

By Sports Desk February 21, 2023

Ruud Gullit has been "pleasantly surprised" by Erik ten Hag's early success as Manchester United manager and believes the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo was key.

Ten Hag left Ajax to take the United job prior to this season, only for the Premier League giants to endure a difficult start to the campaign.

Their fortunes have since turned around dramatically, however. United are third in the Premier League, still in the FA Cup and Europa League and through to the EFL Cup final.

The Red Devils will play that final against Newcastle United on Sunday, a repeat of the 1999 FA Cup final in which Gullit was the Magpies' manager.

Victory in that game would give Ten Hag silverware to go with the clear progress United have made, but Gullit has already been suitably impressed by his fellow Dutchman and his handling of Ronaldo.

The United great pushed for a move away from the club, which was finally granted during the World Cup break after he took part in an interview criticising Ten Hag and others at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo is now playing for Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia, while Ten Hag's United are flying high.

"I am pleasantly surprised," Gullit told Marca. "The Dutch league is not the same as the English one, but Ten Hag has a philosophy that sticks.

"In addition, he managed well in the Cristiano case. Ronaldo didn't want to play, he wanted to leave, and he made the decision not to play.

"That gave the team the feeling that 'hey, with this guy, if you do well, you play'.

"Now, they compete well, young players are involved and they feel they have a chance. Even [Harry] Maguire is fine."

Gullit added of the Ronaldo saga: "The situation was handled like this, and now he is in a place where he is happy. Ronaldo is happy, and so is Ten Hag."

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