Erik ten Hag's Two Faces: Bloody Fist


There was no worse time to clash with Ronaldo and his media machine, but it was at that moment that the first glimpse of Erik ten Hag's personality emerged; This is the first coach to put himself in Ferguson's position, since Ferguson's retirement, and succeed.

Louis van Gaal tried and failed. The Dutchman did not lack pride and a sense of self, but tools and the ability to persuade. Van Gaal would talk a lot, especially about himself, as if he needed to demonstrate his authority all the time, and as you might expect, this had the opposite effect.

Chris Wheeler of The Daily Mail recounts that upon arrival the assistant staff asked the man what his favourite nickname was; Is he the Boss? Or the most popular synonym for United and Ferguson's favourite (Gaffer)? Ten Hag's answer was simple: "I know I'm the boss, and you know I'm the boss, so it doesn't matter what you call me."

This is the first lesson in the Leadership Skills for Beginners book. Your attachment to titles reflects your scepticism about your authority. Real strength appears when needed, and is not called for by titles as much as actions.

Therefore, Ten Hag's calmness and confidence on the one hand, and his unwavering insistence on dealing with the matter in his own way on the other hand, were decisive factors in turning the tide of the conflict in his favour, after a strong start from the Portuguese that almost overthrew the Dutchman, along with other reasons, of course.

Ten Hag is a calm and balanced man to a large extent, and the most important thing is that he is very rational and practical, but if there is one area in which a man never tolerates it, it is the unity of the team, and this, in turn, is logical, because before the team played in this way or that, and before applying any kind of principles, or begins to draw his style, or chooses its basic elements, he must form a team before all of that.

On the surface, the equation was simple; The dressing room needed Ferguson, and Ten Hag had no intention of following in Solskjaer's footsteps, but the implementation was as difficult as possible. We are talking about a dressing room poisoned with double standards and pampering the stars, its best players are going through the worst periods of their career with the team, its captain commits misfortunes whenever he participates, and its first star wants to leave to preserve his records.

Pogba did everyone a great favour with his departure to Juventus, and Ten Hag began a finger-biting battle to impose order; Ronaldo and Maguire moved to the bench for various reasons, and the penalties began to be distributed to everyone, without exception.

After the humiliating defeat against Brentford, the Dutchman insisted that the team be gathered to watch the match in Carrington's new meeting room the next morning, then ordered them to run to make up for the eight kilometres that the Brentford players ran more than them. The interesting thing is that Ten Hag joined his players in running to thwart any attempts to pit the team against him.

These simple, intelligent, effective glimpses marked the beginning of the man's era, of course, along with the fact that his desire to impose order was entirely earnest and most sincere. When Rashford was late getting up on the morning of the Wolves confrontation at the end of December and missing the routine team meeting, the decision was decisive to sit him on the bench despite being the best goal scorer of the team ever during that period.

The same was repeated with Garnacho, despite scoring United's only goal in the season opener; Once he was absent from two consecutive team meetings, Ten Hag decided to freeze him for three matches, ousting the promising Argentine youth from the list. This is what prompted Bruno Fernandes, Solskjaer's biggest supporter in the dressing room ever, to quickly change his position, after he witnessed - as he put it - the mentality of the entire club changing at the hands of Ten Hag, not just the team.

This brings us to the other side of the man. I told you that commitment and unity are the only areas in which the Dutchman does not accept any compromises, but on the other hand, the story of United ten Hag's quick return after a rocky start was very unconventional.

These stories are usually mediated by a stubborn hero who sticks to his ideas, and his insistence on experimentation is often the vessel for change. Stubborn fools are perfect heroes, say the dramatists, because they are free from fear and dare to break the boundaries set by their ancestors, thus acquiring knowledge and experience that no one else has.

However, as we will see in the final part of this series, Ten Hag is actually not that guy.


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