Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ten Hag puts entire Man Utd squad in their place, as culture changing powerplay puts eight stars on notice

Man Utd manager Erik ten Hag addressing his squad

Erik ten Hag has laid down the law to the Man Utd higher-ups in a move that could spell trouble for eight first-team stars, including Cristiano Ronaldo and David de Gea.

One of Ten Hag’s first tasks upon landing the Manchester United job was to oversee a culture change. United had become synonymous with wastefulness in the transfer market and had been criticised for holding on to fading players for far too long.

That issue came to a head over the summer when the Red Devils let a whole series of once-saleable assets leave for free.

The likes of Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard left for nothing and contributed very little in their final seasons at Old Trafford.

Another criticism centred around the club handing out new contracts and extensions to players who’d done little to deserve them.

United’s policy is to insert a club option for an extra 12 months into most of their contracts. That allows them to protect their investment if a longer-term deal can’t be agreed and is something the club have relied heavily upon in recent times.

However, according to the Telegraph, Ten Hag has demanded Man Utd take a more ruthless approach to contracts.

Ten Hag takes a stand

It’s claimed the Dutchman has told the club’s hierarchy not to hand out any new contracts ‘until he’s determined who warrants them’.

The entire United squad are effectively on a probation period under their new boss and the report states it’ll last until domestic football breaks off for the World Cup in mid-November.

“He’s still in that phase of ‘Let’s see how people are, let’s see what they are up to’,” a senior source told the Telegraph.

“How they adjust, how they handle pressure, how they handle not being picked, how they deal with different challenges.

“He’s still understanding them and over the next month or so he’ll start getting clarity in his head.”

The article’s author, James Ducker, stressed the move is not in reaction to the 6-3 defeat in the Manchester derby.

Eight Man Utd players at risk

Man Utd have club options on no fewer than eight current first-team stars who are out of contract at season’s end.

David de Gea, Tom Heaton, Diogo Dalot, Luke Shaw, Phil Jones, Fred, Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo comprise the eight.

There’s been strong talk of United wanting to tie Dalot and Rashford in particular down to new, long-term deals. If lengthier deals can’t be agreed, the likeliest outcome is Man Utd will trigger the 12-month options.

However, the other six all look at risk and may be playing for their futures in the remainder of the campaign.

An added incentive for the players to perform well will do just fine for Ten Hag. The Telegraph added he wants contracts to be difficult to earn and doesn’t want players falling into comfort zones.

De Gea and Ronaldo the biggest names under threat

Ronaldo being a poor fit for Ten Hag’s system is not a new narrative. The Portuguese icon is clearly out of favour with Ten Hag and it would actually come as a surprise if his option were taken up.

De Gea would arguably be the more surprising exit given he is still only 31 and won the Man Utd Players’ Player of the Year award last season.

However, he too looks a poor fit for Ten Hag, with the Dutchman craving a keeper who has better footwork and distribution.

De Gea continues to be linked with Juventus, while links with potential successors are beginning to heat up.

From just the Premier League, Emiliano Martinez, Jordan Pickford and Illam Meslier have all been named as potential successors to De Gea in the last two months.