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Erik ten Hag rings in the changes at Carrington

Manchester United's new manager working at the Aon Training Complex

by David O'Neill

Manchester United’s players will report to Carrington for preseason training tomorrow, but Erik ten Hag has already rung in the changes.

Reports from The Mirror reveal that the new boss has ordered the grass cut to a precise 15mm in order to facilitate the slick passing game he is determined to implement.

Speaking to Sky Sports back in April, former Go Ahead Eagles midfielder Sjoerd Overgoor warned the groundsmen at Old Trafford to expect such a demand, saying “everything has to be perfect” for the manager, referring to his transformative impact on facility standards.

While the players will begin their preparations with the usual physical assessment, Ten Hag is unlikely to have them doing suicide runs.

Instead, the focus will be on passing drills played out at an intense pace, in order to run the players at the same time as sharpening up their technical quality.

The Dutchman is a staunch advocate of “training the brain,” and his Ajax team demonstrated the value of precise and purposeful decision making all over the pitch.

He is also keen to revive a tradition that was commonplace in Sir Alex Ferguson’s time, insisting that players will eat together after training.

Over the course of the last season, players have used the staff restaurant at their own leisure, with many opting to clock out straight after drills.

Ten Hag sees this as a wasted opportunity to foster team harmony and – crucially – to eliminate the fragmented nature of the dressing room, which has formed cliques visible even on the pitch.

There is a good chance that the new manager will get them to bond over a mutual hatred of one particular training drill.

“After four weeks of 11 against zero we were thinking, ‘What is this? It is so boring,’” said Overgoor.

“But after a couple of months of the season, there were matches where we knew what we had to do and everyone was seeing it the same way. It was really clear and it was working.”

11 against zero is exactly what it sounds like, and while one would hope that this group of players does not require four weeks of shadow play to figure out its identity, the above shows the lengths ten Hag will go to in order to instil his patterns of play.

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