No one at Manchester United doubts head coach Erik ten Hag (pictured)

Manchester United: how manager Eric ten Hag laid out the law

When Erik ten Hag arrived at Manchester United in May, one of the coaching staffs asked the new manager how he would like to be addressed.

Ten Hag considered the question for a moment. “Well,” he said. “You know I’m the boss and I know I’m the boss, so call me whatever you want.” Almost eight months have passed and no one at United has any doubt that Ten Hag is the boss.

The Dutchman has established his authority in this team – in this club – in such a way that United again turned from an underdog into a real force in English football.

No one at Manchester United doubts head coach Erik ten Hag (pictured)

He is closing in on Saturday’s 189th Manchester derby with a streak of 11 wins in 12 games, knowing this win will see United move up one point from Manchester City.

This is easier said than done, of course. Ten Hag suffered a brutal 6-3 defeat at the hands of his old boss Pep Guardiola at the Etihad in October and City are once again capable of inflicting the same damage.

However, regardless of the outcome, United will come into the season in a significantly better shape than when Ten Hag took over. The 52-year-old has entered a toxic dressing room and a club desperate for a new direction after nearly 10 years of unrest.

He made several big decisions such as bringing his captain Harry Maguire to the bench and spending a club record £220m on signings in just one window.

Nothing defined Ten Hag's tenure more than his attitude to the Cristiano Ronaldo saga.

Nothing defined Ten Hag’s tenure more than his attitude to the Cristiano Ronaldo saga.

He introduced a new code of discipline and improved the players he inherited, reinforcing the lost sense of unity.

Nothing defined Ten Hag’s tenure more than his attitude to the Cristiano Ronaldo saga. The Portugal star wanted to leave before his new manager even stepped foot in what was a daunting scenario for any manager.

For Ten Hag, this was a huge test, but also a great opportunity to set a marker for the rest of the team. Winning this battle was a crucial lesson for a group of players accustomed to having their superstars pander – no one is above the law of Ten Hag.

Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, there has always been a sense of double standards that has fueled resentment. People like Ronaldo and Paul Pogba were turned a blind eye. There can be no exceptions for Ten Hag. There is no preferential treatment. Discipline is paramount, even if it weakens the team.

When Marcus Rashford overslept on the morning of United’s game against Wolves last month and arrived late for a team meeting, staff were told the striker, in good shape, was on the bench as they prepared to leave the hotel for Molineux .

Wingers Marcus Rashford (left) and Alejandro Garnacho were penalized for being late.

Wingers Marcus Rashford (left) and Alejandro Garnacho were penalized for being late.

However, this suggests that United won the game and Rashford won it for them by accepting his punishment.

“These are the same rules for everyone,” the source said. sports mail On Friday. “Eric tells them what they’re being punished for, and Marcus won’t get in the way.”

This was clear from the first day of the club’s summer tour, when the players, dressed in different clothes and shoes, wandered up the stairs of the Athenee Hotel in Bangkok.

Ten Hag told them in no uncertain terms that the clubs would have a strict dress code from now on. They were required to wear appropriate gear and sneakers, not sliders.

On the 17-day trip, they had only three days off, but even then decisions had to be made through the manager. When MUTV planned to film the players on the set of Neighbors in Melbourne, this was quickly debunked.

Rashford was on the bench before United's match against Wolves but scored the winning goal.

Rashford was on the bench before United’s match against Wolves but scored the winning goal.

Alejandro Garnacho was two meetings late and did not feature in any of United’s four games as a result.

When the teen later walked out to the training ground in Carrington, looking rather disheveled and with his laces undone, he was told to pull up his socks. Literally. Like Rashford, Garnacho didn’t pout and has been one of United’s success stories this season.

Ten Hag’s serious approach extends to players who are given strict instructions regarding rest periods and catering arrangements. Dining in Carrington and outings have fixed meal times during which no mobile phones are allowed.

Lately, they rarely stay at the Lowry Hotel before matches at Old Trafford. Under José Mourinho, United were late for their home game against Juventus in 2018, but Ten Hag allows players to show up four hours before kick-off.

His 7 Suite was adapted to allow the team to gather for the pre-match lunch and team meeting.

The United hierarchy knew exactly what they were getting when they hired Ten Hag. COO Collette Roche came across a spreadsheet full of charts and data prepared by the then Ajax boss when they met before he got the job.

Steve McLaren, who had Ten Hag as No. 2 at FC Twente, recalls the first time he met him and was given a comprehensive program covering the first six weeks of training, right down to drink break times and what each coach would wear. .

It is known that after Ten Hag became a manager in his own right, he wanted the grass to be cut to a certain length and the players’ water bottles to be placed in straight lines.

When he agreed to join United, Ten Hag was adamant that McLaren work alongside him due to his knowledge of the English game, and also insisted on having full control of the club’s reserve team.

He asked for £200,000 for the team’s conference room in Carrington, including tiered seating and a new £100,000 TV where United’s players pored over a replay of their disastrous 4-0 defeat to Brentford earlier in the season.

When Ten Hag joined, he insisted that coach Steve McLaren (right) join him.

When Ten Hag joined, he insisted that coach Steve McLaren (right) join him.

It is well documented that Ten Hag punished his players by ordering them to run eight and a half miles, but still earned their respect by joining the challenge himself.

The manager, who also brought in former Ajax analyst Kevin Kay and Dutch sports psychologist Reiner Koers, remains a dominant figure on the training ground and players seem to appreciate his hands-on approach.

He hammers into them every day the basics of being a professional footballer at one of the biggest clubs in the world, and almost every week he meets with each player individually to explain what he expects from them.

“Even Mourinho hasn’t been at that level of interaction with the players to make sure they get the point,” one of the sources said.

Ten Hag earned the respect of the players by joining them in the eight and a half mile run as punishment.

Ten Hag earned the respect of the players by joining them in the eight and a half mile run as punishment.

The team is often forced to practice on the weaker foot and cut-ins are frowned upon and everyone is told to make sure they hit the net. No laziness, no half measures.

In fact, insiders say Ten Hag gets even more obsessed with discipline the longer he works.

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a lighter side. During United’s winter training camp in Spain, he upheld the tradition that new hires must sing in front of the rest of the group at the Montecastillo golf resort in Jerez de la Frontera.

Ten Hag didn’t take the mic himself, but new chef Ryan Thompson did particularly well with his rendition of Unchained Melody.

Perhaps the biggest compliment you could give Ten Hag is that he has recruited well and also improved the squad he inherited at Old Trafford.

A resurgent Rashford is a prime example, and the England star has certainly benefited from head-to-heads with new striker manager Benny McCarthy. But United are better in every way.

The arrival of midfielders Christian Eriksen (left) and Casemiro (right) had a big impact on the team.

The arrival of midfielders Christian Eriksen (left) and Casemiro (right) had a big impact on the team.

The signings of Casemiro, Lisandro Martinez, Christian Eriksen, Anthony and Tyrell Malasia also had a big impact.

When reporters questioned Martinez’s height during a tour in Melbourne last summer, Ten Hag bristled, calling the Argentine a “warrior.” He turned out to be right.

United have paid more attention to the character of the players after finding a flaw in many of their signings in recent years. “We needed personalities – the United jersey carries a lot of weight,” Ten Hag told Voetbal International last week.

Like Guardiola, he is obsessed with football. He describes working under the City boss at Bayern Munich as “winning the lottery”.

The two men reunited in Manchester, where Ten Hag settled in the upscale suburb of Hale. He was seen cycling with his wife Bianca and even showed up on his bike at nearby Altrincham Football Club when the United Under 23s played a friendly there in July.

By his own admission, Ten Hag hasn’t been talking to Guardiola much lately. But on the other hand, now he is very much on his own.

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