Van de Beek determined to prove himself again under new Man Utd boss ten Hag
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Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has told Donny van de Beek he must prove himself all over again at Old Trafford. The pair previously worked together at Ajax before the Netherlands international left in 2020. And though he toiled under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, there’s still hope the 25-year-old can kick on and fulfil his true potential at the club.
Solskjaer wanted Manchester United to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa in 2020, believing the England international would offer a new dimension to his attack.
But when it became clear the playmaker would be too expensive, the Red Devils then swooped for Van de Beek instead.
However, since then, the 25-year-old’s stock has fallen drastically.
He often struggled for action under Solskjaer, no matter what he did at the club’s Carrington training complex, before being loaned to Everton in January by Ralf Rangnick.
And Ten Hag has now challenged Van de Beek to prove himself all over again, saying: “It’s the same for every player – he has to do it by himself.
“Me as a manager and the coaching staff around him can do everything to set the right conditions so he can perform, but in the end the player has to do it by himself.
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“They have to take responsibility for their performance. Donny has the capability.
“I have seen it, but he has to prove himself.”
While many have been expecting Van de Beek to improve under Ten Hag, he’s yet to start any of his side’s three pre-season matches.
He has instead been brought on as a substitute in wins over Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace.
Yet the midfielder is keeping a calm head as he looks to get into the team.
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Van de Beek recently opened up on Ten Hag, revealing he and the rest of his team-mates were working hard to endear themselves to the 52-year-old.
“He’s still the same, he will not change as a manager,” he said.
“I see a lot of the same things as at Ajax, I think he can help the team a lot.
“Of course, it’s important you have a good manager but in the end, the players have to do it, we work hard every day, sometimes twice a day, we’re making steps but we’re not there yet.”
Another mystery when it comes to Van de Beek is what his actual best position is.
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At Ajax, he operated in the No 10 role on a regular basis.
At United, however, that position is occupied by Bruno Fernandes – while Christian Eriksen’s arrival also poses another obstacle in his way.
But Van de Beek has insisted he’s flexible and admits he’s been critical of himself amid his two nightmare years in England so far.
“It depends how we play. I can play as a 10, but also an eight,” he said.
“One of my strengths is to come in the box, make a goal or give an assist, but I like to be on the ball as well, I have to play where the team needs me.
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“I think we are making steps as a team, but we’re not there yet. There’s a lot of space for improvement, but I think you could see some different things.
“Even for me, I can do a lot better, I have to make steps as well. There is always space for improvement, I’m always critical of myself, and I can help until the end.
“You have to be fit to make your runs, the fitness has to be good, it’s still pre-season, and we have some way to go.”
Van de Beek will be hoping to feature when United lock horns with Aston Villa on Saturday (10.45am).
The Red Devils lost 1-0 to their Premier League rivals at home last term, but did beat them in the FA Cup before a 2-2 draw at Villa Park in January.
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