Surviving the summer is just the start for Manchester United's under-pressure players under ruthless Ten Hag

Erik ten Hag made clear in his opening Manchester United interview that he will be relentless in his demands of holding his players to high standards.

He said: “Everywhere I was in my career, I have high demands on my players. I expect them to fight and give 100 per cent.

“They have to give every day their best. And I would say, for me, good is not good enough. We have to do better.”

The Dutchman also explained in his press conference that he will be taking his own assessment of the players, deciding who will stay. “Finally, I will draw my own line,” he explained.

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images


Surviving the summer is just the start for United’s players

Manchester United’s players will be recalled to pre-season training on June 27. There might be a few who Ten Hag has already made his mind up on, that he does not want.

Others will be given the chance to impress him. Some will succeed, other will fail. But simply surviving the summer and making it to the first day of the Premier League season on August 6, is not enough. It will be a small victory, but ultimately meaningless.

Ten Hag cannot replace everybody at once, as much as he may want to. Ralf Rangnick’s recommendation for 10 new signings is highly unlikely to take place in one transfer window.

The worst thing any Manchester United player could do, would be to assume they have ‘made it’ under Ten Hag just because they are picked to start the opening game. This would be a dangerously complacent attitude to take.

Ten Hag’s United XI will evolve

Ten Hag’s first XI at Ajax featured only one player who lasted through to his final XI. This was left-back Nicolas Tagliafico.

While some of the changes were due to enforced player sales, Donny van de Beek was one and Frenkie de Jong was another, the majority was simply because Erik ten Hag phased them out.

The likes of David Neres and Lasse Schone were moved on because Ten Hag felt, rightly, that he no longer needed them. He also ruthlessly dropped goalkeeper Andre Onana with just a handful of games to go with Ajax fighting for the title. There is no room for sentiment if he feels a change needs to be made.

Photo by ANP via Getty Images

Several Manchester United players will make it into 2021/22. Ten Hag’s comments suggested he is prepared to be open-minded, commenting: “In certain positions we want to renew the squad, but as I said, one year ago, this squad was second in the league, so there is potential.”

Ten Hag will eventually work out who he can improve, and who can only take United forward so far. Over the next two or three transfer windows, the change could be dramatic.

From the evolution of Ten Hag’s first Manchester United line-up, to his last, whenever that may be in the future, it would not be a surprise to see a similar transformation as at Ajax, where only one player lasted the distance.

And with that in mind, nobody at Manchester United will be safe. Surviving the summer is just the start, the players will be fighting for their places every single day, and if they are not up to it, Ten Hag will look to sign replacements who are.

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