Ten Hag tells glory-hunting Man Utd to live the high life and reap the rewards

By Sports Desk December 21, 2022

Erik ten Hag has told his Manchester United stars to "live the high standards" it will take to carry the club back to the top of English football.

The United manager has the bulk of his squad back together after the World Cup interval and will embark on the next stage of rigging up a group capable of challenging for titles.

Former Ajax coach Ten Hag says his players must not "get too satisfied" with their progress, which he nonetheless feels has been significant since a difficult start to his reign.

United will be back in action on Wednesday when they host Burnley, leaders of the Championship, at the EFL Cup last-16 stage.

Their first Premier League game after the resumption comes on December 27 when they tackle Nottingham Forest.

Ten Hag said: "Satisfaction makes you lazy. So don't get too satisfied with yourself as a team. Give every day the best.

"Only when you set those high standards and keep the high standards – it's up to me to control that and give that example, clear. But the players and staff at Manchester United have to live the high standards, and then it's possible to compete with the best clubs in the Premier League and achieve our goals.

"Where we were at the start of the season, we were just not good enough. I knew it when I stepped in that we would have days like that, that we would have defeats."

United lost their opening two Premier League games of the campaign to Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford, but they have recovered strongly to win eight of their next 12 in the competition to rise to fifth place, three points off the top four with a game in hand.

They were last champions of England in 2012-13 and have not won a major trophy since landing the EFL Cup and Europa League in the 2016-17 season.

Ten Hag, who spoke to the Manchester Evening News and national newspapers during a training break in Spain, said it was obvious he was taking on "a difficult project".

"Manchester United was not in the circumstances that you would expect of them, and I think now we're in the right direction, but we're far away from where we need to be," he said.

United have lost three of their last four home games in the EFL Cup, as many as they had in their previous 36 at Old Trafford, and Ten Hag will be wary of the threat Burnley pose.

The Dutchman is confident United can keep building in the coming weeks and months, but bringing everyone back into tune with how he wants to play is another challenge. Many have been away with their national teams, playing and being coached in contrasting ways to his methods.

"Players come back and they have been playing six weeks in a different environment and different style of play," said Ten Hag, "and then they have to get back to our style and system and our rules and principles, and it's a team sport. So, all 11 have to be on the same page."

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