The Manchester United legend waxed lyrical over Erik ten Hag’s ability to adjust his tactical set-up in order to secure victory, something Jurgen Klopp hasn’t always done this season.
Paul Scholes’ claim that Erik ten Hag’s willingness to adapt is what gives him the edge over Jurgen Klopp appears to have been proven right this season.
After a nightmare start to life at Old Trafford, Ten Hag made the relevant tweaks to his system and now has Manchester United sitting third in the table, two points behind local rivals and reigning champions Manchester City with more than half of the season complete.
United have enjoyed some impressive results this term, such as home victories over league leaders Arsenal and arch-enemies Liverpool. In both of those contests, the Red Devils may not have played the perfect football Ten Hag eventually wants to achieve, but he managed to oversee a vital win on both occasions.
Following the 2-1 win over Liverpool in August, Scholes heaped praise on the United boss for ditching his preferred football philosophy for the sake of the three points, something he claimed the likes of Klopp, City boss Pep Guardiola and Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta wouldn’t have the humility to do.
“These players now are probably not suited to the way he wants to play, but he’s found a way to win games with this group of players,” Scholes told Premier League productions.
“We talk about philosophies all the time, don’t we? These managers are stubborn. Arteta will be stubborn, Guardiola will be stubborn, Jurgen Klopp will be stubborn. But this man – you have to give him credit because he’s gone away, really, from what he wants to do.
Now, why would you change and go back to something that didn’t really work at the start of the season? He’s found a way of playing football on the counter-attack with this group of players – why change that?”
Ten Hag’s positive impact at Old Trafford is undeniable and in contrast, Klopp has arguably not been versatile enough this term which has in turn contributed to the fact Liverpool now languish in 10th.
With that being said, it is important to recognise the kind of remarkable success that both Klopp and Guardiola have overseen during their time in the Premier League by standing by their own philosophy on how the game should be played.
Scholes’ assessment is hard to ignore purely because the aforementioned duo are underwhelming by their own high standards, while Ten Hag is thriving during his debut campaign.
Guardiola’s City are second, five points behind Arsenal and Klopp’s Liverpool are currently no better than the mediocre mid-table position they find themselves in.
On the other end of the spectrum, Ten Hag’s United are two points behind City and breathing down their necks and have also managed to reach the Carabao Cup final in the process.