The Dutch coach is working hard to instil his passing style (Pictures: MUTV / Getty)
Manchester United’s players appear to be taking some time to get used to Erik ten Hag’s philosophy and playing style, with a pre-season passing drill causing a few players to come unstuck.
The Dutch coach favours ball work over pure fitness and is looking to immediately instil his style on the group of players he has inherited, who have been more used to playing reactionary, counter-attacking football under previous managers.
But Ten Hag wants his side to dominate the ball and possession and his drills are designed with that philosophy and approach in mind.
One such session this week saw the players passing and moving, firing balls into two centrally-positioned players before sprinting to another corner of the quadrant.
The emphasis appeared to be on passing to a specific foot of the receiving team-mate, a skill which is very important to a side looking to build up play and allows the recipient of the pass to play around any pressure more easily.
Players were being instructed to play to their team-mate’s right foot going one way, and their left foot going the other.
In a clip uploaded by MUTV on Tuesday, coaches Steve McClaren and Mitchell van der Gaag can be heard shouting the instructions to the players who seem to be taking some time to pick it up.
Erik ten Hag in training: “Making too many mistakes..”
Notice how he’s been taking them on one-touch, quick-passing football?
Reminds me when he said “good is not good enough. The intention is to play fantastic football and win”.pic.twitter.com/yFNrueetrE
— UtdFaithfuls (@UtdFaithfuls) July 5, 2022
The first player to make a mistake is Bruno Fernandes, who passes to Anthony Elanga’s left side which prompts McClaren to shout: ‘On the right foot Bruno! On the right foot!’
Moments later, Diogo Dalot repeats the same mistake, playing the ball to Scott McTominay’s left foot as more yells of ‘To the right!’ can be heard in the background.
Marcus Rashford is the third culprit, playing his pass to Elanga’s left which is greeted by a loud groan and a cry of, ‘To the right Marcus!’
Fernandes and Rashford both passed to Elanga’s wrong foot (Picture: MUTV)
It is at this point that Ten Hag gets involved, saying loudly: ‘Hey, we are making too many mistakes!’
One – perhaps unlikely – player did seem to get the hang of the drill quickly, however, with Harry Maguire getting a well done from his manager for his execution, with Ten Hag saying: ‘That’s good Harry!’
Ajax dominated possession in the Eredivisie under Ten Hag whereas United only averaged 52% of the ball last season, a figure bettered by five other Premier League sides.
The potential arrivals of Frenkie de Jong and Christian Eriksen would certainly elevate the standards in training, with both players having come through an Ajax system which encouraged them to play the passing football Ten Hag loves.
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