Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag used external criticism to fire up his squad ahead of their crunching tie against Liverpool on Monday, according to reports.
The manager’s unorthodox methods seem to have worked, with the Red Devils grabbing a 2-1 win over their rivals.
The Mirror’s David McDonnell reports, “It has emerged the United coach used criticism of his players and damning statistics from their opening two defeats to get them in the right frame of mind to beat Liverpool.”
“A United source revealed Ten Hag printed off withering quotes from pundits and stuck them up at the Red Devils’ training ground complex and in the dressing room.”
Ten Hag’s side came under heavy fire and intense scrutiny after losing their two opening games, including a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Brentford.
Against Thomas Frank’s men, statistics showed that the Reds were outrun by a significant margin, which led to them being on the end of scathing attacks from supporters and pundits alike.
“Some of the quotes made by pundits and displayed by Ten Hag included: “United simply aren’t good enough.”
Others included, “Liverpool to win 5-0 again”, “Can’t run”, “not a team” and “they could go down”.
“Ten Hag also printed off statistics – including distance covered, passing percentages, clearances and ball recoveries – and displayed them around the training ground on a daily basis, to show his players how poor they had been compared to other teams.”
“The move was designed to show the squad the level it needed to get to beat Liverpool.”
“It worked. United covered more distance – 114km – and made 51 more sprints than Klopp’s men in their deserved win, their first under Ten Hag.”
Certainly, Ten Hag has shown he can get a reaction from his players if the report by McDonnell is anything to go by. Fans will be hoping that this effect can be prolonged across the rest of the season.