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Steve McClaren: how to bring back winning culture to Manchester United

United's new assistant manager will come down hard on poor body language

by Ayantan Chowdhury

Manchester United are set to embark on yet another brand new adventure, this time under the tutelage of Erik ten Hag. The Dutch coach and his support staff, which includes Steve McClaren and Mitchell van der Gaag, will have a lot on their plate after the club’s disastrous Premier League 2021/22 season.

The dismal performances aside, the tendency of players to raise their arms in the air and point fingers at each other was something that frustrated fans. Heads would drop at the slightest hint of a struggle and there was hardly a united demeanor exhibited on the pitch.

McClaren knows the ethos of the club, having been part of Sir Alex Ferguson‘s coaching staff when United won the infamous treble. Since the legendary Scot’s retirement, trophies have been hard to come by with most players happy to just do the bare minimum instead of striving for success.

The former England manager wants to help restore the aura previously associated with the English giants and ensure the highly-paid stars all pull in the same direction instead of displaying poor body language.

Speaking on The McClaren Performance Podcast, he said, “A lot of people now, body language arms up in the air, you’ve got to react to get that ball back, win that ball back, whatever situation, react quick don’t think about it.”

“You’ve got to accept the rules, the conditions, you’ve got to accept the consequences if you do things wrong. You’ve got to commit, you’ve got to be a class act. You’ve got to be a class act, especially in today’s football,” he added.

Ten Hag the perfectionist & Pochettino reference

The 61-year-old also spoke of the importance of putting in a 100 per cent in training, a non-negotiable for Ten Hag who is a big advocate of intense training modules.

The former Ajax boss’ proclivity towards hard graft has been echoed in the past by current United midfielder Donny Van de Beek. That ultimately pays dividends with the team able to sustain a high-pressing attacking style of football that was on display whenever Ajax took to the field.

“Games are won Monday to Friday, if you get Monday to Friday right, games are won on Saturday. Each and everyone has to bring energy,” McClaren pointed out.

In a surprising admission, the former Middlesbrough coach admitted that he was a fan of how the current PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino goes about his business. And he would like the current United team to imbibe those qualities which will help the squad in the long run.

“Pochettino talks about creating the culture, if no one brought energy he got them out (sold them), they had to bring some kind of energy to the group. You have to be ready, have to be ready to train, you have to be ready to play, ready to impact as a sub, you have to react.”

Prior to appointing the Dutch tactician, the former Tottenham manager was favourite to take over the Old Trafford hot seat.

The former English midfielder is currently gearing up for the start of pre-season which is scheduled to start on Monday. Players who were not part of international duty will report to Carrington for training. “I am getting ready for the chaos that will happen when the players come in on the 27th,” he revealed.

He could not have summed up the situation at the club better. There is chaos everywhere you look at the 20-time English champions. They have not been able to sign any of their targets so far, quite a few players have left while the club is also busy with trying to offload unwanted stars.

A difficult season is set to begin but McClaren’s comments will instill hope in a deflated fan base starved of excellence on the pitch.

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