Former Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong has given his verdict on Erik ten Hag’s first summer at Manchester United.
The Dutchman, who recently retired from professional football, has analyzed precisely what the manager has been up to this summer.
Ten Hag joined the club at the beginning of the summer after a bad season and with the need to transform the mentality and style of the players in the team.
De Jong will know how the manager operates after being a huge success in the Netherlands for Ajax. Since joining the Dutch club in 2016, he has completely transformed it and brought back a winning mentality for one of the biggest clubs in the country.
In an interview with The mirrorthe former midfielder spoke about the difference in the Red Devils squad between last season and the one Ten Hag transformed it into.
“Erik has 23 egos in his squad at Man United,” De Jong said in a recent interview.
“You can have the best players in the world, but you can only start building a good team when you can turn all those egos into a team.”
The summer saw a flurry of transfer activity with 19 players leaving the squad and five entering the first team. Lisandro Martinez, Christian Eriksen, Tyrell Malacia, Casemiro and Antony had the luxury of transferring to the team after a busy few months. De Jong went on to talk about the players Ten Hag brought in and explained exactly what they would bring to the team.
“Ten Hag chose his players carefully. I see one thing, he picked players he can win a war with. I already see the strategy.
“Look at Martinez in the team. He has that killer mentality. Martinez will come through fire for Ten Hag.
“Antony adds swagger. He too has a mentality that we call ‘over my dead body’. I’ve seen that side of Antoine plenty of times.
“United have done very good business in my opinion. The spirit of the team has changed. »
Red Devils fans will recall caretaker manager Ralf Rangnick speaking to the media about the need for a team transformation. It’s safe to say that the former Ajax coach has transformed the overall style of the players, with a core of South Americans at the heart of the rebuilt squad. He has also changed the mentality of the team with wins over Liverpool and Arsenal in recent weeks after a slow start to the season.
“Last year, if they conceded a goal, the team collapsed like a house of playing cards,” De Jong said.
“Now we can all see the energy and the strong mentality of the United team. There is a real team on the pitch again.
” It’s a beginning. Then the results will follow. At the moment, United still score more goals from counter-attacks than from a dominant style of football.
One footballer who has found his form after a tough spell after the European Championships is academy graduate Marcus Rashford. The Englishman has been used as a striker and has already scored and assisted several goals this season. De Jong concluded the interview with a small reflection on Rashford’s current form, saying it’s “wonderful” to see the manager’s faith in him playing as a striker has been rewarded.
United next face Sheriff in the Europa League after Premier League games were postponed last weekend.
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