Home » Hands on and fully immersed: Erik Ten Hag’s brilliant first week at Manchester United

Hands on and fully immersed: Erik Ten Hag’s brilliant first week at Manchester United

by David O'Neill
Erik ten Hag


Manchester United have had almost a full week training under Erik ten Hag and reports indicate that the Dutchman has instigated a complete change in emphasis.

According to Sky Sports News, multiple sources have confirmed that Ten Hag leads every element of training – a far cry from Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer’s tenure, in which drills were overseen by Keiran McKenna and Michael Carrick, and Ralf Rangnick’s, who left the bulk of the work to Chris Armas.

Hands on and fully immersed, the new boss has a reputation for incredible attention to detail.

In a training video released earlier this week, he is front and centre of the instruction, halting a passing drill to ensure his players meet his requirements.

Aside from how that contrasts to the laissez faire approach of previous managers, the content of his drills is also something of a departure from recent history.

From day one, spending time with the ball has been an absolute priority, with an immediate concentration on what to do with it in on-field situations.

“Jargon-heavy” Armas focused almost entirely on what to do without the ball, while the new coaching staff have identified “fear and uncertainty when on the ball” as the primary issue among United’s players.

Even during Solskjaer’s best runs, the team could often be accused of lacking co-ordination outside of counter-attacking situations.

With a heavy focus on possession and played out at an “intense” pace, ten Hag – according to one senior player – wants them to “think, think, think.”

At the top of the game split-second decisions are all-important and the new boss is not averse to stepping in when anything less than “the highest level” is achieved during drills.

David de Gea has already spoken positively of the new manager’s “clear ideas,” and for those who worried about the quality of ten Hag’s English after his somewhat curt answers when unveiled as United boss, those fears can be put to rest – that’s just how he talks.

Concise and forthright, he is able to communicate his demands clearly even when directing the most intense of sessions.

In terms of the mood at Carrington, the malaise that plagued last season has been lifted, with the players in good spirits under a manager who has both “laid down the law” and provided good reasons for optimism for the season ahead.

His enthusiasm on the training ground has reportedly been infectious, and with many believing that United’s conditioning will be “streets ahead” of their previous campaigns, there is plenty of reason for optimism among fans as well.

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