Home » Aaron Wan-Bissaka lifts lid on dark days under Erik ten Hag last season

Aaron Wan-Bissaka lifts lid on dark days under Erik ten Hag last season

Manchester United defender has been resurgent, but is eager to do more

by David O'Neill

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is in a battle with Diogo Dalot to be considered Erik ten Hag’s first choice right back at Manchester United but twelve months ago, it was a battle he seemed to have decisively lost already.

In an interview in which the former Crystal Palace man was quoted by James Ducker of The Telegraph, Wan-Bissaka opened up on his difficult start to life under the Dutchman and how he turned it around.

One of the toughest questions came early for the defender, with Wan-Bissaka asked if there was a point under Ten Hag when he believed his future as a Manchester United player was over.

“Could be,” he admitted. “You have that feeling. But, for me, I always have that faith in myself to get myself out of situations like that. I had my head screwed on and I was ready to do what it takes.”

His resurgence after the World Cup saw him take over as Ten Hag’s first choice right back in the second half of the season, and Wan-Bissaka puts his sensational turnaround down to determination to overcome disappointment.

“Setback,” he said. “Not playing and gaining that hunger to fight for my position and wanting to play, wanting to impress the manager and help the team.

“It was a hard time and the only thing you can do during a hard time is keep working. I got my head down and then got the chance and was able to help the team.”

“Yeah, definitely, because it can go both ways,” he said on whether being out of the team had helped him improve in the long run. Wan Bissaka insists that his response to that adversity was the key to improving as a player: “You can just sit there and complain about it and not care, or you can actually try and I thought the best way was for me to try.”

It certainly paid off, with the precise tackler starting the majority of United’s matches so far in 2023. Whether that will continue into the new season remains to be seen, but the improvements he has made as a player under Ten Hag will stand him in good stead.

Wan-Bissaka has responded to the manager’s “straight-forward” demeanour and appreciates his use of “a lot of one on one chats.”

That clarity can be exacting, but it is something the defender appears to enjoy. He says what he wants,” said Wan-Bissaka, “He has demands and we have to give that 100 per cent. He will just say it how it is.”

Despite the right back’s return to form, he is keen to carry on improving. He has often been used as an inverted fullback, pushing into central areas to support the midfield. But, in those positions in particular, the Englishman’s next target is to bag more assists.

“Yeah definitely,” he said when asked about that matter. “Especially if I am going to be in those positions – be good to be pushing them numbers.”

Widely regarded as among the best one on one defenders in world football, the prospect of an Aaron Wan-Bissaka with regular assists would be a mouth-watering prospect for Manchester United fans. Under Erik ten Hag’s tutelage, it is not beyond the realms of possibility.

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