‘If you want to create a winning attitude and a winning culture, you have to go this way’: Erik ten Hag curbs bad behavior in dressing room and Manchester United reap rewards from bold decision of the boss
- Erik ten Hag admits he took calculated gambles to raise standards
- The Manchester United boss has not been afraid to crack down on bad behaviour
- Ten Hag quickly commanded a lot of respect in the club with big decisions
- The 52-year-old also criticized the club’s previous recruitment policy
Erik ten Hag has admitted he gambled on his actions with Manchester United players to raise disciplinary standards.
There’s a strange feeling that United are reuniting and the main reason is how Ten Hag hasn’t been afraid to crack down on behavior in the dressing room — it’s been clear for a long time that he’s been very much in charge.
This point was emphasized in the harsh assessment he made of the club’s transfer policy in an interview with a Dutch publication, published yesterday.
Erik ten Hag has made some bold decisions since he arrived at Manchester United this summer
Ten Hag’s handling of the circus around Cristiano Ronaldo has been impressive but the most telling episode of his first six months was when he joined his squad on an eight-mile run the day after they were beaten by Brentford, 4- 0.
It was a move that easily alienated him from doubters but, if anything, it showed them who’s boss. Since then Ten Hag has been meticulous in laying down the rules of behavior he expects and the newfound discipline is reflected in the performances.
‘Maybe it’s a risk but if you want to build something, if you want to create a winning attitude and winning culture, you have to go this way,’ said Ten Hag, whose side will be hoping to progress to the semi- League Cup. finals on Tuesday when they host Charlton.
‘Everyone will do their own way. But if you let them be undisciplined, if you don’t live up to the standards, values, and rules that we set together as a team and as personnel —and if you don’t have that unity in the dressing room — then go back you and it will blow up in your face.
After Manchester United lost 4-0 to Brentford – Ten Hag joined his team on an eight-mile run
‘On the pitch that happens if you don’t have the discipline needed to win games. It’s about great responsibility, so you have to go that way.’
The respect Ten Hag quickly commanded allowed him to make calls such as leaving Harry Maguire out of his team, dropping Ronaldo and even sending off Marcus Rashford for the Boxing Day win at Wolves when the England forward overslept for a team meeting.
It’s hard to imagine predecessor Ralf Rangnick getting the response from Rashford that Ten Hag received, when he came off the bench at Molineux to score the decisive goal and fuel United’s push for a top-four finish.
United have won their last seven matches and another victory on Tuesday would be the club’s best win since the eight games they strung together when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over from Jose Mourinho in December 2018.
The Ten Hag had to deal with the situations surrounding Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo
His work is met with great anticipation – but these are the moments where the man himself worries that complacency may set in, which will be a disaster as United’s next Premier League assignments are against at Manchester City and Arsenal.
‘You have to be vigilant for this,’ said Ten Hag. ‘We have to keep this focus and concentration.’
What will certainly help Ten Hag is the addition of a new forward.
Whatever frustrations he felt at losing Cody Gakpo to Liverpool were not allowed to surface but it was evident that how the club recruited players prior to his arrival led him to raise an eyebrow.
‘There is no spirit,’ he told Voetbal International. ‘I didn’t see any team dynamic in the squad. Mental resilience is very low. I saw that as an outsider — and I also noticed it in my first few weeks at the club.
‘I looked at the culture of the club. I asked ‘how did Manchester United do so well?’
‘The club has bought an unimaginable number of players in recent years which has not been enough.’
The Dutch manager decided to bench Marcus Rashford against Nottingham Forest