Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has opened up about the tough decisions he made to let David de Gea go and strip Harry Maguire of the captaincy.
In a Q&A with journalists in Las Vegas (via The MEN), the boss said that making tough decisions such as this represents “the difference between a manager and a human being.”
“In the end, top football is about getting results and then you have to make decisions but you have to do it in an honest and transparent way,” he said.
“The club appointed me to take such decisions in these moments.”
Ten Hag was asked specifically about removing Maguire as captain, and insisted “it’s nothing against Harry”.
“It was in advantage of the team, then you have to make the decision,” he said.
“But I will not say that Harry isn’t part of this group. He has to fight for his position.
“He is a very good centre-back, and I believe in the potential of Harry Maguire.”
One reporter challenged the manager, commenting “You say you believe in him but the evidence suggests otherwise. Does Harry need to move on to play regularly, going forward?”
“Didn’t I play him?,” was Ten Hag’s terse response.
“I have often chosen a player ahead of Harry, that’s true… But he has to show he is better for the team than Rapha or Victor. I think that’s a really normal situation in top football.”
This brutal response also clearly revealed Ten Hag’s stance that it is only the right centre back position that Maguire would be considered for. Historically, the England man played LCB, a role now ruled out of bounds for him, it seems, no matter how well he plays.
Asked to confirm that it is up to Maguire whether he stays or leaves, Ten Hag said:
“Exactly. When you are at Man United you have to fight for your position and bring your skills in and prove you are the best for the team, and contribute the most.”