Erik ten Hag brings back team meal rule at Man Utd that was enforced by Fergie
Newly appointed Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has reintroduced compulsory team meals with the aim of boosting camaraderie ahead of the new season.
The Dutch boss, 52, began his rigorous pre-season schedule on Friday (June 24) with player medicals and post-holiday assessments before ramping up the heat on United's stars this week. And, as well as double on-the-ball sessions, and fitness tests, the first team have been ordered to stay behind after training for whole-squad dinners.
Compulsory meal get-togethers are not a new revelation at Carrington. Legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson was renowned for instructing his players to stay behind for grub after training. Ten Hag believes that dining together will help boost the dwindling team morale after the dismal last season at Old Trafford.
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The former Ajax boss has taken further inspiration from Ferguson with United players told to arrive for pre-season at 9am – an hour earlier than the scheduled arrival time under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. United stars then spent over two hours on the training pitch completing ball work and running drills.
Carrington sources told the Manchester Evening News they were encouraged that some players who had arrived before 9am stayed until after 4pm. Ten Hag's number two Steve McClaren has already compared the Dutchman to Sir Alex.
He said: "In terms of changing games, he is second to none. He had carried on with that work ethic and he’s a far better coach and manager now. He was way ahead of his time. Even in Holland.
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"The only other one I would have seen do that? That would have been the gaffer [Sir Alex Ferguson]. I knew that pre-season was due to start the next day and I said to Erik, ‘Have you got our first day organised?’
"Over the next two hours, he talked me through six weeks of pre-season work. Every last detail was accounted for. Every document ready. Every drinks break planned.
"I would occasionally say to Erik during a session, 'We just need that goal moving to the halfway line' and he would ask every player in the squad to do it. All 22 players. Everyone goes. That’s the way he likes it."
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