The description one of Manchester United’s senior players reached was “intense – not just in body but also in mind. He wants you to think, think, think.”
Erik ten Hag’s first week on the grass with his new team has left a huge imprint on the squad and staff, while providing a detailed insight into what he expects in the future.
The biggest changes several United sources have noted are how immersive the manager is during sessions and the amount of time spent with the ball during drills.
Ten Hag leads every element of the roster, which is a departure from recent Carrington history. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would watch Kieran McKenna, Michael Carrick and Mike Phelan lead practices.
Their nature has been labeled as “basic” and “giving too much freedom with little correction”.
Chris Armas orchestrated sessions under the direction of Ralf Rangnick, which were “very jargon-laden and focused on what to do without the ball”.
Neither manager regularly stopped drills to make sure they were done correctly, and for different reasons, the authority of either was never concrete.
Those with an inside view of Ten Hag’s first week of pre-season have pointed out how much he contrasts with his predecessors.
Assisted by Mitchell van der Gaag and Steve McClaren, there was a strong focus on what to do in possession to start. Ten Hag’s in-depth analysis of United highlighted an issue of fear and uncertainty when on the ball.
The team could counter a devastating effect under Solskjaer, but there were no set streaks or structure for the builder’s play.
Rangnick was obsessed with defensive work and how to run a game when the opponent has possession, with less emphasis on building up attacks.
Ten Hag is determined that players are comfortable on the ball and make decisions with certainty.
The Dutchman steps in whenever a directive isn’t executed correctly, guiding players exactly how he wants it done.
“Not good enough. Give me the maximum,” has been a repeated line from Ten Hag, which is offset by the encouragement he offers when “the highest level” is reached.
The manager is believed to be happy with how the team accepted and accommodated his demands, including the 9am arrival time at the resort – which was previously only applicable to young players.
Goalkeeper David de Gea is among those who have given positive feedback to the staff about Ten Hag’s improved discipline, standards and ‘clear thinking’.
The former Ajax boss communicates very directly, so even though his sessions are intense, they are easy to understand.
Meetings and discussions with players beyond specific training instructions have been kept light and preliminary so far to set the right foundations in place first.
He was also enthusiastic on the grounds and in general around Carrington, which created an improved atmosphere.
Ten Hag eroded the misery that engulfed the place during Rangnick’s reign, but also ‘made the law’ in a way Solskjaer eluded.
The staff have been buoyed by the initial form of Ten Hag’s reign and believe he is already showing the trainability and improved dynamics they recruited him for.
The real test will come at the start of the season, but conditioning is believed to be ‘a step ahead’ of recent campaigns and United will have a bigger technical game and a clear tactical framework.
Ten Hag wants signatures before July 8
Ten Hag ideally wants the bulk of United’s transfer business to be completed before the side depart on their pre-season tour on July 8, with a basic deal in place for Barcelona. Frankie de Jong while a deal for Feyenoord left-back Tyrell Malacia should end soon.
The club are strongly interested in the Arsenal target Lisandro Martinez and did their due diligence on the situation.
Christian Erikson decides whether to accept an offer from United or stay at Brentford – although there are other proposals on the table to which he ‘remains open’.
The club are in talks over the Ajax striker Anthonywhile the Dutch side has indicated that it expects Jurrien Bois stay in Amsterdam.
United have had the centre-half, who can also operate at right-back, on a shortlist of defensive targets.
Director of Football John Murtough oversees transfer activities, aided by Head of Recruitment Operations Steve Brown.
Attorney Tom Keane was hired as a consultant to draft agreements.
Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports
Who will be on the move this summer when the transfer window opens on June 10 and closes at 11 p.m. on September 1?
Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news and rumors in our dedicated Transfer Hub blog at Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also catch up on the ins, outs and analysis at Sky Sports News.