Football NewsErik ten Hag Proving to be the Precise Cure for Man United’s Management Woes
Post image

New Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has hit the ground running as his  directness and attention to detail is already mending a divided squad

Erik ten Hag alternates between two sets of Manchester United exercising players at Bangkok’s Rajamangala National Stadium.

Ten Hag’s other assistant, Mitchell van der Gaag, is overseeing one of the rondos as the players battle to keep possession of the ball.

Theirs are the most audible voices, as the ball is circulated as soon as possible to keep the players on their toes. Ten Hag walks back and forth, observing closely.

Ten Hag speaks only sometimes, his unmistakable Dutch accent piercing the hot night air. But when he does, everyone pays attention. There’s no dispute about who’s in charge here.

Ten Hag’s moderate command of the English language appears to be an asset in these situations. He’s not one to waste words in the first place. So his directions are brief and to the point. If he’s not happy with what he’s witnessing, the Dutchman doesn’t bother to hide his feelings.

When David de Gea launched a long ball forward in the dying minutes of United’s win against Crystal Palace in Melbourne after teenager Charlie Savage failed to provide his goalkeeper the option of a short pass, Ten Hag screamed ‘what the f*** are you doing. ?’ The footage instantly went viral on social media.

Ten Hag will not accept a reduction in standards or a player who does not do as he is taught. He understands what he wants and demands it every day as he imposes his mentality on this United team. That’s why he returned them to pre-season training camp early and only gave the players three days off during the 17-day tour. It concluded with a long journey to Manchester, which arrived on Sunday afternoon, but they will return to training on Tuesday.

This is a man who rose through the coaching ranks in Holland and worked with Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich, earning a reputation for hard effort and thorough planning.

Ten Hag even specified the length of the grass. The water bottles of the players have to be neatly arranged. If he told them to run a certain distance in a certain amount of time, they had to do exactly that, no more, no less.

When United executives met with Ten Hag in London to interview him for the job, they were shocked but impressed to discover him sitting with a mountain of data and charts in front of him.

Ten Hag’s reputation preceded him, and it has only grown in his first month in charge at United, as seen by United’s unbeaten record in Thailand and Australia, where they finished unbeaten with three victories and a tie.

Every facet of the club, not just football, is meticulously planned. Ideas must be fully articulated, and decisions must be defended. When MUTV proposed filming some of the players on the Neighbors set in Melbourne, it was quickly rejected.

Nobody holds the players more accountable than they do. It is well recorded that Ten Hag imposed severe time-keeping restrictions and punishments on his subjects. Diet and nutrition are subject to stricter controls. The players have been instructed not to bring their egos into the locker room and to keep their secrets to themselves. Nobody is bigger than the group.

Ten Hag, like his fellow Dutchman and former United manager Louis van Gaal, is a severe taskmaster and stickler for discipline. But he appears to have a more human side. If a player has an issue, they are urged to speak to the management rather than their agents.

Ten Hag’s training is fast-paced and rigorous in order to simulate match scenarios and the pushing game that he wants. To keep the pace up, the ball is recycled practically instantly. Ten Hag only interrupts the session when absolutely necessary, and the players seem to appreciate it.

Ten Hag’s permanent appointment and recent success at Ajax with Van der Gaag as his No.2 have given them a stronger power foundation from which to launch their campaign. McClaren, of course, was on Sir Alex Ferguson’s team when United won the Triple Crown in 1999, and his name is now etched in club history.

 Ten Hag isn’t as arrogant. The scenario with Cristiano Ronaldo must be irritating for a manager who wants to spend as much time as possible working with his new squad and getting his ideas through. But Ten Hag has been silent while on tour. Questions regarding Ronaldo have been greeted with quick, strong responses that toe the club line. Whatever he believes personally, Ten Hag is aware that any rash remarks could inflame an already tense situation.

He is not one to provide sound bites, but he didn’t hold back when United blew a two-goal lead in their last tour game against Aston Villa in Perth, which he called ‘unacceptable.’

Ten Hag definitely does not appreciate the limelight as much as Van Gaal or Mourinho. He isn’t as forthcoming as Solskjaer or Rangnick.

That isn’t to imply he dislikes the media.