What Erik ten Hag has told his Manchester United stars as ‘sideways and backwards passing’ banned


‘No sideways or backwards passing, dressing-room cliques must go and you have to be fitter’: What Erik ten Hag has told his Manchester United stars as the Dutchman makes drastic changes during the first week of pre-season

  • New Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has set out some new rules
  • The 52-year-old has banned backwards passing and dressing room cliques
  • Threat of younger players replacing senior players in the team also made clear
  • He wants to bring attacking football back and players impressed in training 

New Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has already laid down a stern set of footballing rules as he continues to try and transform Manchester United’s dismal situation.

The Dutchman has vowed to bring back the attacking football that made the likes of Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson so successful at Old Trafford, and has already made his stance clear on what he is expecting from his players.

Ten Hag met his players for the first time on Monday and, according to The Sun, is planning on transforming the philosophy of the club with strict instructions and regulations for his team.  

Erik ten Hag has set out a new set of ground rules in his first week in charge at Old Trafford

Around 15 players have been back in Manchester United training this week for pre-season

Around 15 players have been back in Manchester United training this week for pre-season

The 52-year-old reportedly informed his players:

  • He will not tolerate sideways and backwards passing, and, in training, will substitute players that don’t pass forwards
  • Dressing-room cliques from last season are to be no more
  • Medal hauls and salary are irrelevant in team selection – training performances the focus
  • Young players will replace senior players if they impress in training
  • Players must improve their fitness and eradicate ‘unacceptable’ body language

The move comes after senior players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes were publicly critical of former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tactical ability.

Other players, such as Marcus Rashford and Jason Sancho, then failed to embrace interim manager Ralf Rangnick’s approach and the England duo lost their places in the international squad as a result.

But ten Hag has been using potential World Cup spots as motivation for players to regain their form. 

Though several international players are not due back until Monday, around 15 players have been in training at Carrington.

But those involved have reportedly been impressed with the former Ajax manager’s methods and the level of detail involved in his sessions.

Marcus Rashford has seen a huge dip in form in recent times

Jadon Sancho is yet to live up to expectations after his big money move last summer

Marcus Rashford (left) and Jadon Sancho (right) both lost their places in the England squad

Steve McClaren is back at Manchester United and is working closely with ten Hag in training

Steve McClaren is back at Manchester United and is working closely with ten Hag in training

It is suggested that the fast-paced playing style being enforced on the group has made players listen, with the ultimate aim of tiring out defences.

It is also thought that despite the current lack of quality, ten Hag and number two Steve McClaren have been encouraging in the sessions.

If the poor quality remains, ten Hag will not be afraid to play some of the younger players in senior players’ places.

Winger Alejandro Garnacho and midfielder Hannibal Mejbri, who both had a taste of first team football last season, have already impressed the new manager.

But Monday will see the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, who has stunned the club by requesting them to let him leave.

Monday will see the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, who has stunned the club by requesting them to let him leave

Monday will see the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, who has stunned the club by requesting them to let him leave

The 37-year-old has been unhappy for seven months and has asked to go if a suitable bid comes in.

United insist he is not for sale and have underlined that he is under contract for another year, although new boss ten Hag is indifferent to whether the Portuguese stays, hopeful that his departure would help fund other transfers.

His agent, Jorge Mendes, has been talking to clubs such as Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Napoli over recent weeks to test whether there is a market for his client but no agreement is in place as it stands.

United reportedly therefore expect him to travel on their pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia when they jet off this week.

New boss ten Hag is indifferent to whether the Portuguese stays as part of his squad

New boss ten Hag is indifferent to whether the Portuguese stays as part of his squad

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