Ten Hag's revealing tactical insight

Friday 16 September 2022 10:08

The signs are there that things are starting to come together under Erik ten Hag at Manchester United.

The Reds’ false start to the season, with consecutive defeats to Brighton & Hove Albion and Brentford, thankfully feels in the past after a run of five wins in our last six games. The home loss to Real Sociedad was followed up by a confident 2-0 triumph against Sheriff Tiraspol to ensure the picture in Group E of the Europa League looks much rosier.

Hence, with the Leeds United fixture postponed on Sunday, there is a reason to look forward to our return from the upcoming international break with optimism, while hoping all of our stars come back unscathed from their UEFA Nations League and friendly duties.
Highlights: Sheriff v United Video

Highlights: Sheriff v United

Watch the best bits of action from our trip to Chisinau...

Speaking after the game in Chisinau, Ten Hag provided some insight into how he is being enthused by the performances of his players. While accepting Sheriff started purposefully to ask questions of our defence, it was clear the boss was satisfied with how his team took a stranglehold on proceedings and deserved more than the ultimate two-goal margin of victory.

”Yes, I am [pleased],” he admitted. “I think, after the first 10 minutes, we found our formation and then we were more secure. I think we had some good movements on the ball in the middle of the park. We kept the ball and sped up in the right moments.

”We scored a great goal with Jadon Sancho. It was more like the [Antony] goal against Arsenal where many players were involved in making the goal. If we can keep this going, with more quantity of such occasions, that is what we want and we are in a good way.”

It seems like Ten Hag is such a firm believer in the team ethic and how this is the best route to finding the net, pursuing attempts on goal via a string of positive passes with a number of individuals involved. Look out for hopefully more flowing, incisive team moves reaping dividends, as the connections between the players become stronger due to the time and energy invested on the training pitch at Carrington.

An insight into the analytical mind of the boss was also provided when he talked about the work down the left, fertile ground for the Reds of late, and the way the patterns of play are developing. “I think Jadon has so much potential,” he explained. “He had a good pre-season. First, he invested a lot and is on his way to get really fit. It is a process but he scores goals and he is more secure.

”We can play over that left side with Tyrell Malacia and Christian Eriksen in that triangle. How they moved together, I think they were really a threat for the opponent.”
Ten Hag: We dictated the game Video

Ten Hag: We dictated the game

Erik discusses Ronaldo, Sancho and Varane and United's overall performance in our post-match chat...

And there was also a word about trialling new positions for a couple of his squad, with victory looking largely secured during the second half. Malacia moved over to right-back, to accommodate Luke Shaw’s return from injury as a substitute, and Sancho drifted into a central role when Cristiano Ronaldo was withdrawn.

When asked if Sancho could operate at centre-forward, the Dutchman replied: “We had one good example in Southampton, in preparing the goal for Bruno [Fernandes]. He [Sancho] was also in the centre-forward position.

”We did some experiments on the night as we also brought Tyrell on the right, with Luke on the left, and I think these were good moves and we are very able to do this and we need that in the season.”

Ronaldo will be firing on all cylinders


Erik ten Hag backs Cristiano Ronaldo to keep hitting the net as he improves his fitness.

All of this probably sounds intriguing for most United fans. Those who made the long trip to Moldova appeared more than satisfied and chanted ‘Erik ten Hag’s red-and-white army’ for a sustained period in the second half.

There is the sense that it will, of course, take time to fully implement the manager’s plans, but United are headed in the right direction and will hopefully be ready and recharged for the taxing schedule that is to follow in October.