Manchester United had a season to forget last time around. Not only on the field, but off-field issues dominated headlines as reports of training ground bust-ups, a fractured dressing room and frequent leaks from inside the club became rampant during interim manager Ralf Rangnick’s ill-fated six month reign. But now with Erik Ten Hag set to take over the English giants, reports have emerged as to how the Dutchman will suffer no fools and will implement a strict code of conduct, harkening back to the days of United under Sir Alex Ferguson.
According to The Sun, the new manager has sent an email to all members of the squad underlining his thoughts on how he plans to go about things while making it absolutely clear that he is a stickler for discipline and what will happen if someone does not toe the line.
A source told the publication, “The new gaffer sent the first-team players an email, telling them that football is a team game and no individual is more important than any other. His emphasis is all on the team — despite United possessing world class stars.”
It was widely reported that during Rangnick’s tenure, quite a few members of the playing squad were pulling in different directions with an ongoing power struggle inside the dressing room deteriorating matters further. That’s not all the email contained. It also emphasized the importance of training and how fitness will be a key asset under the former Ajax boss.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 23, 2022
“He wants the players to train at a higher intensity so that each session is like a game. The players have been told that their fitness levels will be the best they have ever been and that if they stick with him and back him, they will be fine.
“If not, they will be out the door. They will be drilled and drilled until they get it right. And if they can’t he’ll replace them with some of the promising youngsters,” the source was quoted as saying.
This is understandable considering the kind of season the club had. The 20-time English champions finished sixth while amassing their lowest-ever points tally and conceding the most number of goals. That’s not all. Damning statistics show that the Red Devils were in the bottom three in terms of distance covered during the course of the season.
The German, who succeeded Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, was famous for implementing a high-pressing and exciting style of play wherever he has managed. But that was never seen at Old Trafford, with the squad incapable of maintaining the required level of intensity and physical prowess. This might be partly down to their fitness levels as well as the lack of focus and desire.
Now things are set to change under Ten Hag. No player will be exempt from this principle, something current United midfielder Donny Van De Beek has already warned the squad about.
The email also mentioned how the 52-year-old also will delve into the private lives of his players, something Sir Alex was famous for doing. Information like how players like to spend their time off the pitch and what hobbies they have will be looked at in a bid to figure out how exactly to manage the different personalities present in the squad.
“He’s going to be a bit like Sir Alex Ferguson was,” the source said. “Fergie knew absolutely everything about his players and didn’t suffer any fools gladly. Neither will Ten Hag.”
There is set to be massive shake-up at the club and it remains to be seen how players cope and what these measures will mean in the long-run. One thing’s for certain: Erik Ten Hag means business!