Sabitzer shares what Ten Hag is like in dressing room and behind the scenes

The pressure has eased on Erik ten Hag after Man Utd defeated Fulham

Former Manchester United star Marcel Sabitzer enjoyed working under Erik ten Hag during his time on loan at Old Trafford last season. The Austrian international described his former boss as a “perfectionist”.

Ten Hag is facing an uncertain future at Man Utd following a difficult start to the 2023/2024 campaign. The Red Devils find themselves in eighth place in the Premier League after matchday 11 with five losses and six wins. 

But perhaps more worrying than that are recent reports of growing discontent among his own players about his treatment of certain members of the squad. According to the Daily Star, some cliques have developed in the wake of unwanted off-field situations involving Jadon Sancho, Antony and Mason Greenwood.

Some players reportedly want Sancho to be recalled to first-team training following his falling out with Ten Hag, while others would like to see Antony dropped from the squad. Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph claim that Ten Hag’s treatment of former club captain Maguire has come under fire as well. 

Sabitzer never ran into any problems with Ten Hag during his six-month spell in England but revealed during a wide-ranging interview with the Athletic that the Dutchman is a very straight-talker. “You can wake him up at 3am, he’d tell you his whole match plan by heart,” he said.

“He’s very knowledgeable about football and tactics — a very hard worker, a perfectionist. And he’s very straight with you. When I had a bad game, he showed me some situations and told me how to do it better next time.

“I liked that. You knew where you stood with him. He never threw you under the bus. Instead, he told players to go out and do better in the next game. I learned a lot about football working under him. He’s a very good coach.”

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Asked about United’s decline in form, Sabitzer explained injuries have derailed United’s season. “Casemiro, Luke Shaw and Lisandro Martinez — they are leaders that provide structure and stability to the team. Erik ten Hag comes up with very specific match plans and patterns of play. But if you have too many important players missing and too many changes as a result, things get lost between the tactics board and the pitch. The rhythm of players coming isn’t right, processes aren’t right.

“In the Premier League and Champions League, you need your best players available. Everything feels a little laboured and uncertain now. They need their big guys to show up and change the course of the season, but I believe things can change quickly once they get important players back.”

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