Erik ten Hag has overseen a tumultuous start to life at Manchester United and the 4-0 defeat to Brentford earlier this month was, without a shadow of a doubt, his lowest point thus far.
The loss at the Brentford Community Stadium sent United to the foot of the Premier League table and the Dutchman became the first United manager to lose both of his opening games in almost 100 years.
Following the calamitous display in London, it was reported by the Daily Mail that Ten Hag cancelled a day off the following day and made the players run 13.8km as punishment – such was the difference in distance covered between Brentford and United the previous day.
Now, it has been revealed that Ten Hag added an extraordinary touch to the unconventional tactic. According to The Mirror, Ten Hag also took part in the gruelling session.
As per the report, Ten Hag was ‘physically shattered’ after running circa 8.5 miles but this touch is said to have impressed his players.
“The players were raging when they discovered their punishment for the no-show at Brentford would be an 8.5-mile run. But the moans ceased when it became clear that the manager was planning to do the same as them,” a source is quoted as saying in the report.
“He didn’t have to tell anyone why. It was clear that he wasn’t going to let his players take all the blame for the performance. Ten Hag also felt he had to show that he also felt culpable. It was a tough run for the players – but it was even more gruelling for Erik – and they were impressed.”
Ten Hag’s decision to revert to an old-school type of reinforcement has been questioned by some people but clearly, there was a humane touch to it all.
It’s the little things and sometimes, those little things mean a lot more than people realise. Ten Hag’s decision to take part in the session shows accountability – the players were not the only ones at fault for the Brentford mishap and he made that clear.
Nevertheless, the controversial approach seems to have worked as United rolled Liverpool over at Old Trafford just nine days after the Brentford defeat.
United fans will be hoping for much of the same, starting with Saturday’s trip to Southampton.