Premier League

Erik ten Hag lays down the law as discipline comes first

Karan Tejwani
Erik ten Hag, Manchester United, 2022/23

Erik ten Hag has built up a reputation for being a keen disciplinarian during his time in the Netherlands and he has enforced the same at Manchester United.

Marcus Rashford was the latest to feel the wrath of Ten Hag’s rules, as he was benched for his club’s tie against Wolverhampton Wanderers, despite the attacker’s good form over the last two months.

It wasn’t the first time that he has done something like this at Manchester United, and he has set the bar for what is expected from his players and staff while he is in charge.

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It all comes from his time in the Netherlands where he wanted to establish he was the boss and determined no one was bigger than him and the club.

Ten Hag laws down the law

When he was at Go Ahead Eagles, in one of his first training sessions, he laid down the law: bibs had to be piled in coloured order – red, yellow and blue and football boots had to be black.

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Like at every other club, players had to be on time, remain with the squad in meetings and meals and not attending would result in repercussions, as Rashford recently learned.

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He also asked for his office to be moved closer to training pitches and that was to be closer to the squad: they could walk in whenever they wanted and raise issues.

When he moved to Utrecht, it was much of the same, and that resulted in plenty of success, as Utrecht were challenging Dutch football’s big three and made it to Europe.

When he moved to Ajax, responsibilities were bigger and in his first summer, Hakim Ziyech wanted to leave and he still ensured order within the squad, taking the Amsterdam side on their historic Champions League run in 2019.

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There was also a point where Amin Younes refused to come on as a substitute in a match and he was then removed from the squad, once again determining his authority; he left the club soon after.

At Manchester United, it’s been much of the same: the Cristiano Ronaldo episode showed that – his refusal to come on as a substitute against Tottenham saw him dropped against Chelsea.

Then, his unsanctioned interview with Piers Morgan was the end of his Manchester United career as he criticized the coach, club and structure.

Like Rashford, Alejandro Garnacho was also late to training in pre-season and was sanctioned, and that order was maintained for senior players.

In his career, Ten Hag has always maintained discipline comes first and that has been a part of the success he has enjoyed – he’ll be hoping to continue that in England.

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