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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Manchester United needed to take disciplinary ‘risk’ to ensure future success, insists Erik ten Hag

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Erik ten Hag has admitted it was a risk to drop Marcus Rashford against Wolves because he was late for a team meeting but insisted it was necessary to bring a winning culture to Manchester United.

Rashford, who subsequently revealed he overslept, was benched as a punishment but came on as a substitute to score United’s winner at Molineux last week.

Ten Hag said he was confident the forward had the right character to respond in the correct manner and argued that standards would have slipped on the pitch if he had not taken a hard-line approach.

The former Ajax manager has also proved tough enough to discipline players from youngster Alejandro Garnacho to Cristiano Ronaldo, who was omitted after he refused to come on as a substitute against Tottenham, and accepted it was a gamble to weaken his side by leaving out the in-form Rashford.

He said: “Maybe it is a risk but if you want to develop something and to create a winning attitude and culture you have to go this way. If you allow them to be undisciplined, if they don’t match the standards, the values, the rules we set together – and that is staff, the players and the dressing room – then it will come back and blow in your face. Because on the pitch it will not add discipline which is necessary to win games. In my opinion, you have to go this way.

“If it is the right person and the right characters they will react like this. In relation to Marcus, I was quite convinced, knowing him for seven or eight months, that I could expect this reaction he showed.”

United recorded a seventh straight victory by beating Everton 3-1 on Friday but Ten Hag is guarding against complacency as he warned them they would get hammered if their standards slip.

“You have to be watchful for this,” he added. “We have to keep this focus and concentration. We have to work well during training. When we get to games we have to start with the right attitude. If we don’t, the level in the Premier League is that high you get hammered.”

Meanwhile, United are considering a loan move for Dutch striker Wout Weghorst as Ten Hag looks to strengthen his forward line after Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure.

The Netherlands international is currently on loan at Besiktas from Burnley and so would need to end his deal with the Turkish club if he were to join United.

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