Dutch legend Nigel de Jong has credited Erik ten Hag for the way in which that he has ‘tamed’ the Manchester United dressing room so quickly. The Red Devils have bounced back from their opening two defeats of the season to Brighton and Brentford, winning their following 4 games.
United have beaten Liverpool, Southampton, Leicester and Arsenal since their poor begin to the regime of Ten Hag, moving them into fifth within the table. The Old Trafford outfit were the centre of the eye of the summer because of their overhaul, and De Jong believes that the manager deserves credit for a way he has now taken control of the team entirely.
He told The Mirror: “Erik has 23 egos in his squad at Man United. You may have one of the best players on this planet, but you may only start constructing a correct side when you may turn all those ego’s right into a team. Ten Hag has chosen his players rigorously. I can see one thing, he has picked players with whom he can win a war.
“I can see the strategy already. Have a look at Martinez within the team. He has that killer mentality. Martinez will run through fire for Ten Hag. Antony is adding swagger. He too has a mentality what we call ‘over my dead body’. I even have seen that side of Antony loads of times.”
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Speculation spiralled around Manchester regarding the longer term of several stars, though mostly Cristiano Ronaldo – who was reportedly desperate to go away the club in favour of joining a club competing within the Champions League. Nonetheless, Ten Hag stood firm and insisted that the Portugal international is an element of his team – and the forward slowly appears to be getting the message.
De Jong, who won the Premier League with Manchester City, continued: “Ten Hag has already convinced the players that they should operate as a team. It’s all about fighting for each yard and dealing hard. That’s what the players have to know. That may be a start. Then results will follow.
“At this moment United are still scoring more goals from counterattacks than from a dominant sort of football. However the most important thing is that they’re winning games and for Ten Hag, that’s how he can bring more confidence into the team. Eventually, he can get them to play the way in which he wants.”
It stays to be seen whether Ten Hag can proceed to unite the dressing room at The Theatre of Dreams or whether it is just a matter of defeats before cracks start to point out.
Reports of conflict behind the scenes emerged on a weekly basis under Ralf Rangnick and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and Ten Hag will likely be keen to be certain that that is not any longer the case by keeping spirits high with wins.