On Erik ten Hag and the challenges of management…
“The bigger the club, in terms of the support and the money the club generates and the amount of people who follow it, the pressure gets ramped up, but in fact – certainly Erik would agree with me – that whether you’re at Manchester United or a lower league club in England or Holland, to a certain extent the conundrum remains the same.
“You have to work very hard to prepare your team, you have to try and then live with what the team is doing on the field, and make the improvements that you can. In the meantime you have to accept from the outside there’ll be scrutiny and people telling you that you aren’t doing it the right way.
“The actual equation doesn’t change, it’s the volume and noise which changes, so if you get good at blocking out noise, I suppose it’s just a question of how strong your eardrums are!
“The noise has got greater because the number of television and radio channels has proliferated, but most importantly what used to be a written press is now a lot more than that: it’s written press, it’s social media, and loads of people who make a living by becoming podcasters and therefore experts on the particular club they follow.
“If you watch Sky Sports News, as I sometimes do, there’s always an expert on there who’s a podcaster on Man United, Crystal Palace, Chelsea, Fulham, et cetera, and that increases the noise because people listen to it and people have a tendency to often take on board what they’ve heard, not necessarily doing the amount of questioning which perhaps someone like myself would do from the outside.
“It’s part and parcel of life and is probably something which has generated more interest in the game. I remember when matches started to be televised, years ago, and one of the major fears was it would take away public support and attendances would drop. How wrong was that theory? You don’t see a game now in the Premier League, or top leagues abroad, which aren’t absolutely full to the rafters.
“This is all part and parcel of something which is pushing the game forward. Does it make life easier for the participants? Perhaps it doesn’t, but on the other hand we shouldn’t complain because we’ve got the benefit of playing in a good league, so well supported and with so many people interested, and being much better remunerated for our work now than those guys 30 or 40 years ago when all this was just kicking off.”
On the Ryder Cup so far…
“Absolutely [I’ve been following it]! I’m just catching up on it now.
“I’ve not really had the chance to watch it as I would like to watch it, but I’ve been very pleased to see the Europeans starting so well.”