Manchester United are finally back in action. New boss Erik ten Hag‘s first pre-season assignment is against arch rivals Liverpool. The Dutchman has made his presence felt both on the field and off it. Videos have shown his hands-on training methods and how he personally oversaw training sessions, constantly stepping in to provide instructions or berate players for failing to follow them.
His off-field micro-management has also made quite the splash. In a team full of egos and a splintered dressing room, the former Ajax manager is hopeful that these subtle changes will bear fruit.
In a bid to restore unity in the squad and foster a healthy working spirit among the group, Ten Hag has banned the use of mobile devices during meal times.
🎥 Erik ten Hag and the Manchester United players hosting an open training session in Thailand pic.twitter.com/SWSdOz2252
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) July 11, 2022
This includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. According to the coach, this will ensure players speak with each other and mix freely. And all players have been strictly instructed to eat together at all times.
It will certainly be interesting to see how all of this unravels as the Premier League season gets under way. The squad has big characters and whether they will get used to this level of micro-management will be engrossing to see.
Team spirit was at its lowest ebb under former interim manager Ralf Rangnick. Reports of a fractured dressing room, power struggles among heavyweights and training ground clashes were a common sight in all publications.
Ten Hag is aware that he needs to get the group playing and thinking as one and he is pulling out all the stops to ensure it happens as United target a good start to life under the new manager.
Bizarre changes galore
Among the other curious changes that Ten Hag has implemented includes telling staff what colour clothes they have to wear on that particular day.
According to The Mirror, this helps the new boss identify them around the team hotel and training ground. On Monday, the female members of staff wore white shirts, while the men sported black, as per the directive.
It’s just another measure of his attention to detail. He’s so focused and everything is thought out,” was how a United source put it.
Old Trafford has been no stranger to such bizarre requests from managers. Legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson was famous for banning youth players from wearing coloured boots while Jose Mourinho had once banned players from playing Pokemon Go!
And the drills were meticulously planned as well with the squad divided into two groups and put through their paces. Intense close quarter passing drills, and a training match was played with losers having to do press-ups, cheered on by fans at the stadium.
According to The Telegraph, players trained for for two hours in the morning and then did a further 60-minute session at the Rajamangala Stadium later in the day.