The details of an email Erik ten Hag sent his Man Utd stars have come to light, while a wantaway star has warned his team-mates of what to expect from the Dutchman, per multiple reports.
Ten Hag is the man Man Utd’s hierarchy selected to lead their rebuild. The summer window presents the first opportunity for Ten Hag to flex his muscles as United boss. The Dutchman has his work cut out after several high profile departures for the likes of Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard were already confirmed.
Moves for either Pau Torres or Jurrien Timber have been talked about at the back. Frenkie de Jong remains their top target in midfield, while Ten Hag has personally intervened in an attempt to hijack Liverpool’s move for Darwin Nunez.
Regardless, in his first season at least, Ten Hag will have to manage with a bulk of players left over from the previous eras.
United’s time under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick especially was characterised by persistent leaks from within the dressing room. Reports of disharmony among the group also regularly made its way into the media.
However, the Sun claim to have been told of Ten Hag’s first attempt to clamp down on those prior issues.
Ten Hag reportedly laid down the law to his new squad in an email that outlined his expectations.
Ten Hag won’t tolerate big egos
A source told the Sun: “The new gaffer sent the first-team players an email, telling them that football is a team game and no individual is more important than any other.
“His emphasis is all on the team — despite Manchester United possessing world class stars. He wants the players to train at a higher intensity so that each session is like a game.
“The players have been told that their fitness levels will be the best they have ever been and that if they stick with him and back him, they will be fine. If not, they will be out the door.
“They will be drilled and drilled until they get it right. And if they can’t he’ll replace them with some of the promising youngsters.”
One player who may be in line for a chance to shine is Donny Van de Beek. The Dutchman is well known to Ten Hag through their time together at Ajax.
So it comes as something of a shock to see an Italian report claiming Van de Beek wants out.
Corriere della Sera claimed the midfielder is ready to quit Old Trafford and is attempting to engineer a move to Roma.
Whether that report (relayed by the Mirror) is entirely accurate, only time will tell. Regardless, the Sun’s source that shed light on Ten Hag’s email also relayed Van de Beek’s take on working under Ten Hag.
They claimed Van de Beek has warned his team-mates they’ll be axed without hesitation if Ten Hag gets any inkling they are being disloyal. That would suggest the culture of leaks and talking to the media through backchannels is being addressed.
Van de Beek reportedly concluded Ten Hag will back his players to the hilt, though only if they show the same level of professionalism and respect he will give them.
Dutchman must be given time
The early signs in Ten Hag’s reign appear promising. Veteran stars who never truly cut the mustard at Old Trafford have been moved on such as Juan Mata and Paul Pogba.
The culture at the club needed addressing and Ten Hag has wasted little time getting to work in that regard. Reports filtering through to the media of discontent at Man City and Liverpool for example, were in far shorter supply than at United in recent times.
The Sun noted Ten Hag plans to instil a Sir Alex Ferguson-style discipline at the club. That may be required for many of the club’s top earners whose levels nosedived last season.
However, despite the positive signs, United will still face an uphill struggle to secure top four next season.
Should they fail to nab Champions League football, United must not hit the panic button if they are convinced Ten Hag is the right man for the job.