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Erik ten Hag won't suffer fools gladly at Manchester United as he once made a player sign a contract that included a termination clause if he turned up late for training.
Ten Hag, 52, will take over from Ralf Rangnick at Old Trafford at the end of the season. And Daily Star Sport has been finding out all about United's new man at the helm from one of his former players.
Esbjerg fB defender Kevin Conboy played under Ten Hag during the Dutchman's spell in charge of Utrecht. He says that the current Ajax boss is good at getting the best out of players earmarked as trouble, but that his good nature only extends up to a point.
"He would do anything to protect the team," Conboy tells us. "At the time [at Utrecht], maybe we had 25 players and the staff. And he said, 'let’s say we have a balloon, everyone on the outside is trying to poke it and say ‘this is not good enough’ or find holes.'
"He always said ‘we need to stay together as a group’ and that for the individual player to shine, the team needs to function. It’s not about 11 players or 15; it’s about everyone. We had to make sure that nobody on the inside was causing any trouble."
Naturally, that leads us to ask about any occasion Conboy may remember where a player got on the wrong side of Ten Hag. And his reply doesn't make good reading for any of United's stars who step out of line.
"I’m not going to mention the name, but we had a player who lived 30 or 40 minutes away from the training ground," Conboy begins. "He was late one day, and Erik said, 'this is never going to happen again.'
"Then he came in late one morning one more time, maybe five minutes. Maybe in Dutch terms, compared to the Premier League, this is nothing. But he received a €1,000 fine, or thereabouts.
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"The third time, he had to go to the director’s office and sign a contract that said if he was ever late again, 'you can just terminate my contract.' He gives a lot, but he demands a lot. You don’t step outside."
"He managed to get the best out of players that were maybe pigeon-holed as trouble. He is very good at getting the best out of the players, really."
Unruly Manchester United stars, you have been warned.
- Manchester United FC
- Erik ten Hag
- Premier League
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