The Debate: Ten Hag not afraid to crack the whip
The panellists on this week’s edition of The Debate agree that Manchester United’s new manager Erik ten Hag is the ruthless leader the Reds need.
The Dutchman held his first press conference at the club last Monday, and received a tour of Old Trafford. Ten Hag also met staff from various departments in the staff canteen, taking the time to shake hands and introduce himself.
The Debate host Mark Sullivan sat down to talk about Ten Hag’s first impressions, summer recruitment, and the season just gone and this week’s guests included two former Reds, David May and Wes Brown, as well journalists Simon Stone, from the BBC and The Times' Paul Hirst.
After reflecting on last season, the group looked ahead to United’s future, praising Ten Hag’s early impact and predicting how the summer transfer window may play out.
“I think he [Ten Hag] did all the right things last week,” said Stone. “He shook the media’s hands last week. That’s a good touch as well. He said a lot of the right things.
“[But] clearly, with any manager it’s about good results. Results end up being about recruitment. No manager can make bad players really good players. They can improve them, but you need good players [and] you need a squad that’s together.”
Hirst agreed with Stone, outlining how Ten Hag’s coaching and management will impact United’s players.
He said: “It’s about standards isn’t it? Ten Hag is not afraid to crack the whip. He doesn’t mince his words.
“I went over to Holland a few weeks ago to speak to people who had worked with him, who’d played under him, and they all said to a man if you’re not contributing [or] if you’re not applying yourself, he will let you know.
“He’s very blunt, to the point. He will spend hours analysing your game so he will know if you’re not playing well.”
In addition to improving the current squad, Ten Hag is expected to make additions this summer.
Many names have been linked with the Reds already, and Stone believes that despite not having Champions League football next season, Manchester United remains an enormous draw.
He said: “There are a lot of positives about Manchester United. The stadium: 70,000 people turn up every week. It remains one of the biggest global football clubs.
“The amount of interest in Manchester United is enormous. It can still attract top-quality players, even without Champions League football. The Premier League we know has more money than every other league in Europe, so United can still attract good players.”
Brown agreed that new signings were likely, but maintained that the Reds’ current crop of players should be given the opportunity to progress from the last 12 months.
“For me, quite a lot [of changes will happen],” he said. “There’s lots of players leaving. He’ll have I’m guessing three or four he’ll need to bring in.
“But, I’m pretty sure as a new manager he will give everyone the respect that’s needed but he’ll also hopefully let them know he’s here now: ‘This is what I demand and yes what’s happened in the past has happened in the past so can we go forward from that and move on?’ That’s what I’m hoping he’s going to say to the players.”