Erik Ten Hag has defended his strong disciplinary measures at Manchester United after a turbulent fortnight, with the Dutchman saying there was not a “good culture” at the club before his arrival last year.
Since United last played against Arsenal on September 3, Jadon Sancho has been asked to train away from the first team following his public outburst against Ten Hag, while Anthony has delayed his return to training after the international break amid assault allegations.
In his press conference ahead of United’s clash with Brighton on Saturday, Ten Hag highlighted the importance of managing different personalities in the team, and said no one had been punished harshly for just one mistake.
“It’s about team building and group dynamics,” he said. “But it’s about the team, the team above everything else.
“In this team, everyone plays their role and everyone is different. There are different personalities and you have to manage those personalities. But the team is always above everything else.
“The club, because there was not a good culture before I came in last season, asked me to set some standards. So my job is to control the standards.
“Of course, no one has ever made a single mistake. It’s a whole process before you reach a certain conclusion about the strict lines. The technical staff, the players, or anyone else, if there is a structure to cross the lines, you have to be strong, absolutely.”
The absence of Sancho and Anthony means United are short of options on the right wing. Alejandro Garnacho, Facundo Pellistri and Marcus Rashford are the most popular remaining wide options, while Bruno Fernandes can also play on the left flank.
Ten Hag said: “The team is strong, has a good spirit and a good mood and we will enter the match.”
“They are very good. Sometimes you have setbacks in seasons, players get injured or for other reasons are unavailable. So you build a team. Those who are available, they are motivated.”
“Maguire’s treatment is crazy, he needs to stop it.”
Ten Hag also jumped to defend defender Harry Maguire, who was subjected to a difficult attack last week with England.
The centre-back was booed at every touch in Tuesday night’s friendly win over Scotland before scoring an own goal in the second half. England coach Gareth Southgate blamed “the people in our country” for Maguire’s treatment, which he described as “an absolute joke”.
Maguire, who was booed in a similar way by Arsenal fans in his last Premier League match, says he can handle the heat, but his mother has come out on social media to say the treatment has gone beyond football.
Asked about Maguire’s treatment, Ten Hag said: “I’ve said many times, he’s disrespectful. He doesn’t deserve it. It’s crazy but that’s the way it is. Harry has to prevent that with performances.”
“If you see his career, it’s a great career. He has a lot ahead of him, and he has to prevent it with good performances.”
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