Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has stated that he will ‘come down hard’ on any players who step out of line under him during his tenure at the Old Trafford club, according to The Sun. The Dutch managers no-nonsense desire to get United back to where they belong is only just starting.
Over the years following Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign at the club there seems to have been a big lack of discipline at the club which has helped in its downfall. For years, troublemakers at the club have been left to do what they have been doing with little or no action taken against them.
Bringing discipline back into the squad will be the best way to get them working towards the aims of the Dutchman which will help raise their game, help them rise up against their opposition and not be so much of a walkover against the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool.
It has been nine seasons since United last won the Premier League title and six seasons since the club won the EFL Cup and the UEFA Europa League. There needs to be a reaction to instil something to bring back that winning mentality. Speaking about discipline, Ten Hag said:
“I think one of the issues when you want to get results, you need a team. It is organisation, co-operation, and also you need discipline.
“When there is no discipline around, you will not find it on the pitch as well. With such issues I’m quite severe.
“But I think it is on the players themselves to also be severe to each other, because if they want to achieve success they have to stick together.
“Sometimes there is a need for correction. I have high standards because you are here, you are playing for Manchester United, then you must bring every day on the pitch.
“That is an expectation I have.”
This is the minimum that is required from a top team and United have been a long way from being a top team since Jose Mourinho’s first season in charge of the club when he won the FA Community Shield, the EFL Cup and the UEFA Europa League – the last trophies the club won.
The is, of course a lighter side to Ten Hag, as there have been for all managers who have discipline as part of their philosophy. He will joke with the players to find parity, which is also needed. He will also turn the screws in a manner that will heed results too. He continued by saying:
“I think I have a clear idea about strategy. The way I want to play football but also in the way a top football club has to be structured. We talked about those ideas and we agreed on the structures and the way we play football. Now we have to implement that.
“I have signed here for three years, but in football it’s short-term as well. We have to win from the start. So I don’t look that far ahead. I have a strategy, it’s a process, it takes time, but in the end we have to make sure from the outset there is a winning team.
“I must say I have a strong belief. This is a big challenge but until now everywhere I’ve been I’ve got the maximum out of my teams, and this is the project that is the most difficult. I realise that, but I am here so I am convinced that I can do it.
“I know it’s not an easy job but that gives me some joy, energy, together with all the people around to make a unified co-operation and that has to be the platform for success.”
United always needed a manager like Ten Hag. David Moyes did not grasp thesis of the job. Louis van Gaal was never given a good chance, Jose Mourinho sulked too much at times and Ole Gunnar Solskjær seemed to lose his way. United could be on the right trail at last.
United are currently in Melbourne where they beat Melbourne Victory 4-1 on Friday and face Crystal Palace on Tuesday and the manager has seen the fall in confidence his team had based on last season. He will hope to raise that before the season starts. He concluded by saying:
“You can see that it affects the players. Now we have to cheer them up and motivate them. We are trying to bring the confidence back.
“That is one of the important points to get success, that you have self-belief as an individual and as a team. But sometimes also you can be highly demanding because that is what we expect and we give them feedback -‘why are you not acting to your standards?’
“And that is the question I am asking to the players. We want to play proactive, attacking football where its possible.
“We want to play good, but if we don’t play good we still have to win. I wanted to bring in a certain way of playing, it won’t be done when we finish pre-season, but when we finish pre-season we have to get results.”
The first two pre-season matches were both entertaining and showed positive high press football but mistakes were also made. Now that United have made an impression, Ten Hag will be seeking to raise that and seek perfection over the coming weeks and months and beyond.
Written by John Walker