Erik ten Hag orders Man Utd flops return early as he plans rigorous pre-season
EXCLUSIVE: Incoming Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has earmarked his plans for pre-season with the club’s players set to face a demanding period of preparations to get them into shape
Erik ten Hag has ordered Manchester United’s flops to report back for pre-season training two weeks early.
New United boss Ten Hag reckons the squad he is inheriting will need an extra two weeks of rigorous fitness work at their Carrington base to ensure they are in the condition to play the style of football he demands.
United’s players were due to be back in for pre-season training on July 4, but it is understood ten Hag wants some of his players to report for duty the week beginning June 20 to get them in shape well ahead of the start of the Premier League.
Ten Hag, who will this week conduct individual Zoom chats with United’s players – as revealed by Mirror Sport last month – has watched their last few games remotely and is said to have been unimpressed with the squad’s fitness levels. The outgoing Ajax coach, who officially starts work at United next month, is convinced many of the poor performances this season have been caused by poor fitness and a lack of conditioning.
Ten Hag, like so many modern managers, plays a pressing style, which requires players to be at peak fitness to sustain the running and energy levels required for 90 minutes. That is why the 52-year-old feels United’s players need a two-week head start in pre-season, to ensure they hit the ground running when the new campaign starts on August 6.
Interim United boss Ralf Rangnick questioned the fitness levels of his players, as did Southampton boss Ralph Hasennhuttl, after the two sides drew 1-1 back in February. Rangnick questioned United’s endurance and physicality levels, a recurring theme of his as the team’s performances and results have tailed off towards the end of the season.
Hasennhuttl said it was “not a big secret that when United lose the ball, their reverse gear is not always the best from everybody” after the stalemate at Old Trafford. United will undergo two weeks of pre-season training, before embarking on a two-and-a-half week tour of Thailand and Australia, which includes games against Liverpool, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa.
Former United goalkeeper Raimond van der Gouw has also given an insight into the fitness levels required with the approach Ten Hag wants to introduce at Old Trafford. “If Ten Hag wants United to play the way he played at Ajax, the team has to be working together,” Van der Gouw told United’s website. “The whole team will defend together and put pressure on the ball all over the pitch. At Ajax he has done a fantastic job, winning prizes, playing very attractive football and he has become a better manager along the way.
“Of course United want to win trophies, but the most important starting point you can have is a team performance where the players enjoy their football. That is one aspect that I think Erik will see as key: you need a team on the pitch, not 11 players. You need a team who wants to work for each other and who all enjoy playing football together. When you have that, you have to look further, but that is the base that I’m sure he will look to build.”