Ten Hag no longer seeing ‘an enemy behind every tree’ after making one Man Utd man ‘smile again’

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Foppe de Haan talks about Man Utd Credit: PA Images
Foppe de Haan talks about Man Utd Credit: PA Images

Erik ten Hag has got Cristiano Ronaldo “smiling again” with the Man Utd squad pulling in the same direction, according to Dutch coach Foppe de Haan.

The Dutchman had a nightmare start to his reign as Red Devils boss by losing both of his opening two Premier League matches.

Defeat to Brighton 2-1 on the opening weekend was too shocking but the manner of their 4-0 loss to Brentford the following week sent shockwaves throughout the fanbase.

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However, Ten Hag expertly rode the wave of criticism and has presided over four straight wins in the league since, taking them up to fifth in the early-season standings.

They did suffer a narrow 1-0 loss to Real Sociedad in the Europa League on Old Trafford on Thursday but that won’t worry the Dutchman too much.

And former Heerenveen and Netherlands under-21 boss De Haan thinks Ten Hag will be a success at Man Utd and doesn’t think his compatriot gets the credit he deserves as a coach.

“With Ten Hag, people often think: what kind of man is that?” De Haan told De Telegraaf.

“But when he starts talking about football, you immediately know wait a minute, this guy knows what he wants.

“He really has an idea and makes it trainable. He makes demands, is very clear about them and seems completely reliable in the things he wants and does. That’s why he has lasted so long at clubs

“Ten Hag has also noticed where football is heading. The game in small spaces and the extremely physical.

“Not in the sense of power-boys, but who are quick and skilful and can run. You have to be able to run, run, run’ he once said. That’s true too. And you have to have guts.”

Ronaldo’s future proved a big distraction over the summer with reports claiming that the Portugal international had made it clear to the club’s hierarchy that he wanted to leave the club.

Man Utd are without Champions League football this term, one of the key reasons Ronaldo wanted out, but a lack of interest in his services means that Ten Hag now has the 37-year-old at his disposal.

And De Haan reckons Ten Hag’s early show of power, by benching Ronaldo for five out of six Premier League matches, has made his squad respect him.

“They all had a lot of trouble with that (the players) after Alex Ferguson,” De Haan added.

“He was also very clear immediately towards Cristiano Ronaldo. That was good. He sat on the bench against Arsenal and is smiling again.

“That is very clever. Trust is very important, then you also give that to another. Then you dare and you don’t see an enemy behind every tree.”


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