Erik ten Hag is the latest man tasked with turning Manchester United’s fortunes around and now, the Dutchman has wrapped up his first pre-season at the club. United won three out of their six games, drawing another two and losing just one.
The latest game, a 1-1 draw with Rayo Vallecano, was Ten Hag’s first game at Old Trafford but he made wholesale changes from the side that played against Atletico Madrid just 24 hours earlier.
Following the visit of Rayo Vallecano, Ten Hag insisted that United are ready for the long season ahead but stressed that there are still improvements to be made.
“Overall, definitely [happy with pre-season], I think we make a good pre-season and we make good progress,” Ten Hag told MUTV after the game, according to the Manchester Evening News.
“We are ready for the season, but I know there is still a lot of room for improvement and we have to improve.
“That is also a process that continues in the season, but for next week it’s about the result as well. It [team selection] was a mixture of experience and youth, some guys met each other for the first time today, so what can you expect?
“You saw the attitude was great, they fought and worked for each other and it was positive. We created a lot of chances, okay, we also conceded chances, but I think we have to be satisfied with the performance.
“We want to give the young players who deserve a chance the opportunity to play. He [Garnacho] showed himself during pre-season and that’s why he played. He played pretty well and his performance was really good.”
A change in attitude and increased focus on pitch-level coaching could be seen in the first pre-season game against Liverpool. Clearly, a lot of emphasis has been laid on training the players’ minds.
United have lacked a clear philosophy for several years and instilling a new style of play won’t come overnight but the initial signs have been encouraging.
As Ten Hag points out, next week’s game against Brighton is only about the result, however. A stuttering start to the season, at least in terms of the level of performance, is expected. A stuttering start to the season in terms of points is something he can’t afford.