Erik ten Hag is convinced he can help ‘restore’ Manchester United to former glories despite a difficult start to his reign at the club.
Ten Hag’s tenure has began in disastrous fashion with back-to-back Premier League defeats leaving the Red Devils in the division’s relegation places.
United next face a difficult test when rivals Liverpool visit Old Trafford on Monday evening. Speaking ahead of that clash, Ten Hag reiterated his belief that he can bring success to the club and says he is ready to embrace the challenge and process of reviving United’s fortunes.
“I’m here for the club and to restore the club,” Ten Hag told his pre-match press conference. “I knew before that this is a challenge and I wanted this challenge. I knew before it was going to be hard but I wanted that because in my career, everywhere I started, the start was difficult but I get it done, and I’m convinced I get it done here as well.
“Therefore I choose this project, I knew it’s a process and I will stay consistent to the philosophy and to the plan we had, and I keep confidence in the cooperation I have with the players and also the team around, the coaches and the directors.”
United were beaten 4-0 at Brentford last weekend in a humiliating defeat in west London. Ten Hag’s side were thrashed across the opening exchanges, conceding four goals inside the first 35 minutes of a Premier League fixture for the first time.
Ten Hag discussed his attempts to change the mentality of the squad and dismissed suggestions that the the players had been disaffected with his demands.
“No. I think every manager will demand it from his players and it’s normal. It’s your obligation to the club to fight and give 100%,” the United boss said.
“One of the points as a manager is that you have to work on the attitude and mentality of the players. That’s what I’m doing. This is the first time since 27 June [when pre-season began] that I was not happy and not satisfied, and I told them.”
The Dutchman cancelled a planned day off for his squad following the loss at Brentford, with Ten Hag bringing in his players for additional work the following day. The training session saw the squad forced to run the 13.8km distance that Brentford had outran them during the defeat.
Ten Hag has opened up on the decision and says he was keen to emphasise that the performance was below the standards accepted at Manchester United.
“I took the decision on Saturday – during the game, when I saw the performance,” Ten Hag said. “That is not the standard for Manchester United and actually it’s not my standard. We had to change that. I have to [tell] the team, the players what the standard is, that we don’t accept this.”