No one can disagree with Erik ten Hag’s success as a manager. He has shown the ability to do well with teams in different parts of the world, managing the likes of Ajax and now Manchester United. He won the Eredivisie title three times at Ajax, along with three Dutch Cups and the Dutch super cup. At Manchester United, he won the Carabao Cup.
However, something that has recently come to light is his inability to manage players well. The situation with Jadon Sancho has shown that this is a regular occurrence with ten Hag. The issue with the problems is they are all publicly addressed, and it is not a good look at the club and him as a manager, which could lead to problems further down the line.
There is no doubt that many players and managers have disagreements, but it is about how it is dealt with. That should be communicated in a way that both parties can come to an agreement. Unfortunately, it seems that his way of managing players does not work as well as it should.
Here are some players that Erik ten Hag has clashed with in his managerial career:
With the return to Manchester United starting off as a love story. Things quickly took a turn for Cristiano Ronaldo under ten Hag. It was one of the most reported situations and put a really bad vibe around the club, with fans loving Ronaldo for being one of the greats.
The future of the club was envisioned without Ronaldo in Erik ten Hag’s mind, which saw the Portuguese international be dropped to the bench. At one point, it even saw him refuse to come on as a substitute.
This then saw Ronaldo turn to Piers Morgan, where he let out his thoughts about the club as a whole, alongside some comments about ten Hag. There, he stated: “The coach didn’t have respect for me. So this is why the relationship, it’s in that way,”
“He keep saying in the press that he come to me, he like me blah, blah, blah, but that is only for the press, 100 per cent. If you don’t have respect for me, I’m never going to have respect for you.”
Ronaldo and United mutually agreed to terminate his contract after the interview, in which we saw him join Saudi League side Al Nassr.
During their time together at Ajax, both André Onana and Erik ten Hag fell out after the fans booed Onana off for making a mistake that led to conceding. Although they won the game, which he said that he did not “did not give a s***.”
"I don't give a s–t!"
André Onana isn't worried about criticism 😤 pic.twitter.com/5Q2WZUhd1a
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 20, 2023
He was already on his way out of the club, and it was the last game he played in an Ajax shirt. There are reports stating ten Hag was not happy with his attitude, lack of fitness and performances after returning from his nine-month doping ban. The two now work together again at Manchester United and, for now, are on good terms.
Here is a player who took his time at Ajax by storm. A prospect that looked to be heading in the right direction in terms of success in the footballing world, he scored on his debut for the club. However, this did not stop Erik ten Hag from sensing him having an attitude issue.
Throughout a cup game for the club, ten Hag was shouting from the sidelines at him, shouting “Noa! You have to run deep!” After the player dismissed his comments, he said “you have to shut up. You have to listen. You just need to do it. No, cut it out! It’s our game, not just yours.”
He was later loaned to sides FC Twente, and Club Brugge. He moved to the latter on a permanent deal worth €6m in the summer of 2021. This past summer, Lang joined Ajax’s rivals PSV Eindhoven for a fee of €12.5m. Noa Lang commented on the relationship saying “Everyone loved me at Ajax, except for one person.”
Youngster Zidane Iqbal has a bright future for Manchester United. At just 20 years old things were looking promising, however, things took a quick turn in Erik ten Hag’s first season at the club.
During a training session, ten Hag shouted at him after a mistake, he said “Keep the ball on the floor… Zidane! Hey! Keep the ball! F***ing rubbish!” Iqbal never saw the pitch after the situation even though the squad picked up many injuries, despite playing pre-season before and featuring in five of the games.
He left the club for FC Utrecht this summer.
Since joining Manchester United, Jadon Sancho has struggled to reach the form he was consistently putting up at Borussia Dortmund. He was not in the squad for the game against Arsenal which they lost 3-1, with Erik ten Hag commenting “on his performance on training we didn’t select him. You have to reach the level every day at Manchester United.”
Sancho was very quick to reply to what was said in the press conference, he posted on X (Twitter) about the situation due to the reports making assumptions about him.
— Jadon Sancho (@Sanchooo10) September 3, 2023
With that being said, he is directly disregarding Erik ten Hag’s comments about his recent performances in training. As this situation is currently ongoing, it will be interesting to see how it is dealt with. Based on the past, one can expect him to be completely frozen out of the squad until further notice.
Is it ten Hag’s fault?
Each and every manager has their own techniques when it comes to managing players. Each player is different and needs to be catered to. It seems that ten Hag’s way of working comes across as disrespectful towards some players. As a result, that is what causes these situations to occur in the first place. He does not help himself when he publicly axes players from the squad. He also makes it the main talking point in the press conferences, or feeds the media to blow things out of proportion.
We saw that happen with the Cristiano Ronaldo saga. If it was all dealt with behind closed doors, most likely things would have ended in a more positive manner. However, when things are in the public eye, it makes the situation a lot worse than it should be. Each and every situation is different. Seeing that it is a regular occurrence between himself and his players, it is something that could be worked on by the Dutchman.