Erik ten Hag’s Praise Manchester United Players
Recalling Manchester United’s dark days isn’t necessary for their supporters, who can appreciate the team’s significant progress under Erik ten Hag’s leadership as they prepare for a match against Anfield this weekend. Despite eight players from the dismal 4-0 defeat against Liverpool last April remaining with the club, prominent squad members such as David de Gea, Bruno Fernandes, and Marcus Rashford still hold key roles, unlike Anthony Elanga and Harry Maguire, who are unlikely to start on Sunday. Roy Keane publicly exposed the squad’s shortcomings after that defeat and singled out the aforementioned players.
“I think it was anger at the start of the season, now I just think it is sadness,” Keane told Sky Sports. “You look at the team today, there was no heart, no soul, no leaders.
“They lacked quality, they were so far off. You look at the Manchester United fans, they don’t look surprised by the scoreline.”
Less than a year later, the tables have turned for Manchester United, with their incredible comeback being nothing short of remarkable. Although defeats to Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford early in the season left them in a tough spot, their victory over Liverpool at Old Trafford in August turned the tide. Since then, the team has only lost four times across all competitions. While Erik ten Hag has been commended for his role in the club’s turnaround, his comments prior to the clash with Jurgen Klopp’s side emphasized the importance of recognizing the players’ efforts, rather than solely praising the Reds’ boss.
Ten Hag looked to do this when he said: “I think our team, our mentality in general is very good. I think we also have many leaders who set the mentality, who set the standards, who control the standards, who correct if necessary.
“I think we are happy with this process but it can always be better. That has to be the approach.”
Keane would have been the first to admit in April that United’s mentality was severely lacking but just less than a year on, the former captain has no choice but to admit that these players have done what was needed to turn their reputations around. On Sunday, no matter the result, United supporters heading to Anfield will know that this team is heading in the right direction and is unlikely to slip into the bad habits they saw 11 months ago.