The Ten Hag Effect: How Passionate Players Thrive at Manchester United and Why Being ‘In the Wrong Place’ is Not an Option

‘Have to act as robots and demand of our players that they match the standards’: Erik ten Hag tells his Manchester United stars to behave like ‘machines’ after admitting their level has ‘dropped’

Erik ten Hag has warned his players there will be no future for them at Manchester United if they cannot show the passion and hunger that he demands.

Nearly eight months on from a 4-0 embarrassment at Brentford that plunged Ten Hag into early-season crisis, he is still having to remind his squad of the standards required as they prepare to face Thomas Frank’s side again at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.

The Dutchman admitted that they ‘returned to old habits’ in a 2-0 defeat at Newcastle on Sunday as United dropped out of the top four after failing to win for the third Premier League game in a row.

In August, he punished the players for the Brentford debacle by making them run 13.8km – the overall distance they lagged behind their opponents.

On Tuesday, the threat was more severe as he called on them to be ‘robots and machines’ by finishing the season strongly.

Erik ten Hag has sent a strong message to his players ahead of their clash with Brentford
Manchester United are falling into the battle for the top-four after their loss to Newcastle

Asked if some players may never get the message, Ten Hag replied ominously: ‘When they can’t get this, then they are in the wrong place.

‘Of course, you have to match certain standards. You have to know why you are where you are, and what brought us in the position. That was about determination, passion, desire, and I have missed that.

‘When you have a strong opponent who plays above the levels – and many teams do against Man United – then you get killed, and we had that experience on Sunday.

‘I agree we dropped. I also know there are fluctuations because people are not robots. But we have to act as robots, we have to act as machines, we have to expect and demand of our players that they match the standards.’

Ten Hag dismissed suggestions that United have switched off after beating Newcastle in the Carabao Cup final in February, adding: ‘We had a tough programme, but now they have had their rest and it is unacceptable.’

One player who appears to have satisfied his manager’s demands is Luke Shaw who signed a new four-year contract on Tuesday after calling out United’s lack of ‘passion, desire, hunger and attitude’ on Tyneside.

Ten Hag also confirmed that Christian Eriksen has resumed full training after recovering from ankle ligament damage. Eriksen will not be available against Brentford although Aaron Wan-Bissaka returns after illness.

Meanwhile, United have announced a pre-season friendly against Borussia Dortmund in Las Vegas on July 30.

United will be hoping to put right their heavy defeat to Brentford at the start of the season


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