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Erik Ten Hag Wants ‘Players With Balls,’ Cites Good Progress With United’s Rising Stars

Erik Ten Hag Wants ‘Players With Balls,’ Cites Good Progress With United’s Rising Stars

In an exclusive interview with TNT Sports, Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has recently discussed the progress of young talents, academy graduates Kobbie Mainoo and Alejandro Garnacho.

Ten Hag is urging Mainoo and Garnacho to cultivate their individual identities while simultaneously reporting the incredible progress in the two. His message left many fans speculating about the two young talents’ potential role in Manchester United’s future success.

“The future for Manchester United is very bright. We have some very young, talented players,” ten Hag said. “Kobbie Mainoo is one of them, also one for instance is Garnacho, [who is] playing almost every game.”

Eighteen-year-old Mainoo notched his debut senior goal for Manchester United in the FA Cup victory over Newport County on January 28. Despite making his Premier League debut only on November 26 against Everton, he solidifies his presence in the core of ten Hag’s midfield.

Meanwhile, nineteen-year-old Garnacho, who had a more limited role last season, left a lasting impact on the United first team since his November debut against Everton, marked by a stunning overhead kick at Goodison Park. With three additional goals and two assists across competitions, he consistently displaces forward Marcus Rashford on the left of the front three.

Related: Man United Hold Talks With Former Chelsea Manager As Ten Hag Faces Sack

Once teammates in United’s 2022 FA Youth Cup triumph, Mainoo and Garnacho have evolved into regular starters under ten Hag.

Despite putting much faith in the Mainoo-Garnacho duo, ten Hag also mentioned the presence of other capable players contributing presently and in the future for the team. However, citing impatience, ten Hag also stressed the need for short-term results.

“There is a tradition in Manchester United [of] coming-up academy players, or developing young players. Now we have to develop them into higher levels,” ten Hag said. “But at Man Utd the pressure is always there and we need the players who have the balls to play in such a team and such a club.”

Ten Hag further shared his belief that the team possesses the right characters and environment and experienced players who can nurture the young players. He highlighted the importance of how in the team “there is togetherness and that we get the results.”

Mainoo, in just seven league appearances, showcases his defensive prowess with numerous penalty-box actions, contributing significantly at the back. He also excels in the offensive aspect, which is evident in his touch map for the season.

Drawing from his experience shaping young stars like De Jong, De Ligt, Gravenberch, and Kudus at Ajax, ten Hag appears to be imparting his knowledge to the 18-year-old Englishman. However, his message to Mainoo and other emerging talents at Old Trafford is clear. They must forge their own paths despite the coach’s wealth of experience.

“You can always learn from other players,” ten Hag said. “Definitely he [Mainoo] has some skills that remind me of some players, but for me it’s always important that players find their own identity, and so that is what I try to push, that he finds his own identity with his skills.”

Ten Hag expressed a similar sentiment for Garnacho and other rising talents, including Omari Forson and Willy Kambwala. He also mentioned the loaned players like Dan Gore, expressing optimism about their development to meet the required standards for Manchester United.

The clash between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers is set to be a thrilling encounter on Thursday, February 1. The match will be broadcast live on TNT Sports 1 and Ultimate, beginning at 19:30 CET, with kick-off scheduled for 20:15 CET.

For those seeking extra excitement, Sportsbet.io offers an opportunity to engage with the game through its platform, where aside from enjoying the match, players can also explore the interactive feature Cash Grab.

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