‘Up to now, so good’: Ten Hag can take positives from Man United preseason tour

PERTH, Australia — The ultimate act of Manchester United‘s summer time tour of Thailand and Australia did not mirror how constructive the journey had been.

Eric Bailly despatched a plastic chair hurtling throughout the turf as he walked off the pitch at a sodden Optus Stadium, whereas David De Gea marched via the blended zone round an hour later with a face like thunder.

Calum Chambers‘ equaliser for Aston Villa left the ultimate rating at 2-2 — placing a dent in Erik ten Hag’s beforehand good document as supervisor, and it wasn’t simply the gamers who have been aggravated.

Ten Hag branded the team’s second-half performance “unacceptable” and accused his gamers of an absence of focus — a abstract delivered in each the dressing room and his postmatch interviews.

Nonetheless, by the point the squad had been bussed straight from the stadium to the non-public terminal at Perth Airport forward of the lengthy flight again to Manchester, the United supervisor was in a extra conciliatory temper.

Strolling up and down the Boeing 747 geared up solely with enterprise class seats, he thanked employees for his or her efforts on the tour, acknowledging their work and that almost all had been away from family and friends for one of the best a part of three weeks.

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Ten Hag has been in place for less than a month however has already made his mark. His microscopic consideration to element has concerned assembly membership bosses with a big binder organised into sections and colour-coded so he can finest current points he thinks want consideration whereas additionally watching his coaches lay out cones and targets for coaching workout routines earlier than striding in regards to the pitches himself to ensure the distances are appropriate.

Surveying the WACA forward of an open coaching session on Thursday, he wasn’t pleased with the positioning of a number of the cameras and had it fastened instantly.

The “management freak” model of Ten Hag is one he is snug with — gamers and employees mentioned the identical at Ajax — however being the centre of consideration is proving extra alien. After coaching had completed, some gamers went over to the close to 5,000 watching followers to signal autographs. There have been a variety of requires Ten Hag to affix them, nevertheless it wasn’t till assistant Steve McClaren beckoned him over that he lastly obliged.

Even for a person who has labored at Bayern Munich and been answerable for the largest membership within the Netherlands, the dimensions of Man United nonetheless takes some getting used to.

Louis van Gaal complained in his first United information convention in Los Angeles in 2014 that the summer time tour was solely about making a living and never getting ready gamers for the season, however Ten Hag has, for probably the most half, taken it in his stride.

“It’s a part of soccer these days,” he mentioned. “It’s important to settle for it as a supervisor, as a group, you must take one of the best out of it, that’s what we did.

“I feel it is nice for group spirit to be so lengthy collectively, you possibly can actually enhance that, develop that, you could have a number of time to work in your group since you are so shut collectively. That’s nice, I might say.

“It is good to be in nice cities: Bangkok, Melbourne, Perth. There are disadvantages, it’s clear, however you must take care of sure issues which are determined when you do not have affect on. When you could have affect it is solely on the sport — that’s our focus level.”

Ten Hag’s focus has been on soccer and little else, however he has made it clear it isn’t simply the gamers who will likely be concerned in making the membership profitable once more. Some have commented that the 52-year-old has “the aura of Sir Alex Ferguson” in the way in which he has tried to make everybody — no matter function or division — really feel a part of the group. Gamers have been inspired to go to Perth Zoo on Thursday, and employees have been informed they might go too in the event that they wished.

For all of the positivity that has emanated from the tour, there stays a sense amongst Ten Hag and his employees that it is extremely fragile. Three new gamers — Lisandro Martinez, Tyrell Malacia and Christian Eriksen — have arrived, however his No. 1 goal, Frenkie de Jong, continues to be at Barcelona and talks with the Spanish membership are, for now, at an deadlock.

Ten Hag was in a position to bat away questions on Cristiano Ronaldo whereas on tour, however the situation of whether or not the 37-year-old will proceed on the membership subsequent season will come to a head this week. The pair are set to satisfy face-to-face for the primary time in Manchester forward of the subsequent pleasant towards potential Ronaldo suitors Atletico Madrid in Oslo on Saturday.

After that, there may be Ten Hag’s first Premier League sport in cost, towards Brighton & Hove Albion at Outdated Trafford on Aug. 7. It may not be Liverpool or Manchester City, however the significance of getting off to begin has not been misplaced on the brand new supervisor.

“I feel all the time on the primary sport,” he mentioned about his expectations for the season. “The primary sport is crucial one. We wish to win each sport however first win the primary sport.”

Leaving the group lodge in Perth for the final time, one Australian fan behind the barricades took his likelihood to ask Ten Hag the way it was going at United. “Up to now, so good,” he replied with a smile.

Whereas he could not have requested for a greater introduction to life in his new job, he’ll know the true work is but to begin.

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