MARK LEATHER INSIGHT: Erik ten Hag cancelled day off to send message to Manchester United players


PHYSIO INSIGHT: I suspect Erik ten Hag called Manchester United’s players in for extra training on their day off out of embarrassment and a ploy to let the wider world know that their performance was unacceptable

  • Erik ten Hag sent out a firm message to his Manchester United players on Sunday
  • The United boss elected to cancel the team’s day off after the defeat to Brentford
  • Too many players are underperforming and some do not want to be there 

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag furiously cancelled a day off for his players after their 4-0 drubbing against Brentford on Saturday.

He wanted them to run at least 13.8kilometres – the same amount the Bees outran them at the Brentford Community Stadium. 

Below, former Liverpool and Bolton physio MARK LEATHER opens up to Sportsmail on the physical and mental challenges facing United stars after new boss ten Hag hauled them in for extra training. 

Erik ten Hag sent a clear message to his players by cancelling the team’s planned day off

I’ve seen this at all levels of football where your day off is cancelled and you’re called in. A coach has decided that the players are training or sitting around watching X-rated video clips of the previous day.

In this instance, I suspect it’s borne out of embarrassment and a ploy to let the wider world, including United’s huge fanbase, know it’s unacceptable to play in the way they did. Something is going to be done about it.

He will feel let down by people perceived to be going through the motions, but that clearly won’t be all the players. One or two may have done more than their average against Brentford.

Do you split the team up when everybody’s in it together? I’ve never seen it. If you’ve played in a performance like that, you’re all in. You’ve lost as a team and you get punished as a team.

You run the risk of alienating certain players who don’t like this, that will definitely be the case. Players don’t like running at the best of times.

David de Gea, along with many of his team-mates, will not be happy with his performance

David de Gea, along with many of his team-mates, will not be happy with his performance

But would it make a massive difference in terms of physical recovery? No, it probably wouldn’t if there’s no midweek fixture.

It’s not just an old school 12-minute run around the pitch, it will be sensibly and scientifically done.

The thing to be cautious about is the climate. The silent killer in fatigue isn’t just the running itself or the additional work. It’s been extremely hot and humid, and it will have taken a wee bit more out of them than normal.

But this will be a culture shock to some of them. Certainly at that club, it won’t have been the norm for bringing them in and running them.

Then there’s the mental side of it: the stress, anxiety, worry and pressure. Possibly even being unhappy with themselves. 

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Too many of United’s players are underperforming and some of them do not want to be there

You can’t tell us certain players have been happy with the way they’ve performed over a long period of time, it’s common at every club. Somebody’s been in the doldrums for months.

Privately each one of them will be going through a crisis. The goalkeeper (David de Gea) won’t be happy with the way he performed in that game, neither will most of the players. If it keeps occurring then something is not quite right.

None of them are bad players but too many are not performing or going through a crisis. They can’t dig them out of this big hole they’ve fallen into.

Some of them are at the end of their tether and don’t want to be there. It would be a relief for some of them mentally that they’re out of the pressure pot. That’s not the new manager, it’s long-standing.

When you see perceived leaders crumbling, you know you’re in trouble. They can probably smell it themselves in the dressing-room. They know. Sometimes beating them with a stick isn’t the answer.  

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