We knew Erik ten Hag was a hard-liner, and his being so is one of the secrets to his success. It was thought that a more authoritarian leader would be great for Manchester United, as the dressing room was reportedly a big mess last season. Maybe Ten Hag’s tough love will work out in the end, but the very early returns are obviously not good. In United’s first two matches, both losses, they were outscored a combined 6-1, and that one goal was not even scored by someone on their team.
They didn’t get just beaten badly by Brentford, 4-0, they were also outhustled too. The Bees outran United by 8.5 miles (13.8km) in that match, as Thomas Frank’s team covered 67.9 miles while Ten Hag’s players registered 59.4 miles.
So Ten Hag canceled the squad’s scheduled day off on Sunday, and instead made the team run 8.5 miles at Carrington Training Ground, in 30 degree Celsius (86 F) heat. It seems like a just punishment, for getting completely dominated by a team with 1/9 your payroll. There was more of the hickory stick beyond that as well, with the Dutchman holding a very blunt and serious team meeting.
According to The Sun, Erik ten Hag told the squad to stop feeling sorry for themselves, and to start showing some actual fight on the pitch and belief in themselves. The Mirror has more at this link. It is well past time for measures and tactics that could be described as “brutal” in the eyes of some.
Up next is the big, arch-rivalry match against Liverpool, who, obviously have their own issues right now. So it doesn’t get any easier next weekend.
On top of all that, there is a supporter movement, named #EmptyOldTrafford that is aiming to stop the home fans from entering the stadium on Monday night. It’s a protest against the team’s owners, who definitely deserve it.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He has regularly appeared in WGN, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and he co-hosts the After Extra Time podcast, part of Edge of the Crowd Network. Follow him and the website on Twitter and Instagram.Follow paulmbanks