Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes says that Erik ten Hag’s emphasis on discipline and sharing the blame with his players has enabled the manager to make a difference within the team.
Fernandes told The Athletic’s Adam Crafton that after United’s opening double defeats against Brighton and Brentford, the manager resorted to familiar tactics and took a hardline stance to get his men to perform.
The Portuguese playmaker told The Athletic, “He went straight to his rules, to his demands, what he wants from us. He’d say, ‘I want to play with us always pressing on the ball, be hungry to do good things, to fight for the team, to be tough to beat.”
“I could feel in the training sessions after Brentford that we were going to do something different.”
The 28-year-old also confirmed that the Dutch manager punished his players by making them run 13.8 kilometres after the Brentford thumping – an exercise Ten Hag himself took part in.
As per Fernandes, this only served to earn the manager more respect and admiration within the dressing room.
United’s no. 8 explained that Ten Hag’s gesture proved to the squad that he also took a share of the blame rather than levelling it solely on the players on the pitch.
The Portugal international lifted the lid on another trick the former Ajax boss used, which has helped the Red Devils make a brilliant turnaround.
“Individually, he calls the players many times to show us clips, and he will say, ‘Here, I prefer you to do another kind of thing.”
“That is good because players need time to get the best out of the idea that he wants to do.”
Fernandes believes this would help streamline players even further, making their movements more and more automatic.
United face an acid test in Manchester City when Premier League football returns in a few days. It will undoubtedly be the biggest challenge Ten Hag has faced in his time in England and should provide both him and the fans a true reflection of the team’s state in relation to the champions.