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In the face of reports of player unrest, Erik ten Hag is convinced his Manchester United plans are on track.
After a 10th defeat of the season against Newcastle last week, the United manager has been confronted with stories that his methods had been called into question by sections of the locker room. But the Dutchman is adamant his squad is united.
“You can see you can’t play such great football as we did lately if there is no unity,” Ten Hag said Tuesday. “We are on a journey, a route, we know we are still in transition, but we are in the right direction.
“You see it how we construct a team, develop it, the team is progressing. How young players (are) coming in and you see the potential how they can contribute to a very successful Manchester United for the future.”
The reports of unrest led to a number of media outlets being barred from Ten Hag’s news conference to preview Wednesday’s Premier League match against Chelsea.
“We’re taking action against a number of news organisations today, not for publishing stories we don’t like, but for doing so without contacting us first to give us the opportunity to comment, challenge or contextualise,” United said in a statement.
The reports claimed there were growing doubts about Ten Hag’s management style as United sit seventh in the standings and on the brink of Champions League elimination.
“Of course there are always, in every team, players who are not playing or less playing who are less happy. That is not different to normal,” the Dutchman said. “If the players have a different opinion of course I will listen. But they haven’t told me. Or maybe one or two, but it is about in general. The majority, they want to play like this — proactive, dynamic, brave, that is what they want. You can see the players are behind it because of the performances against Everton and Galatasaray. You see that we are really improving.”
It is the second time in recent weeks United has responded to negative stories about Ten Hag, having last month refuted claims it was considering replacements for the former Ajax coach.
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While there has been no suggestion from the club that his position is in question, reports point to a growing sense of uncertainty as Ten Hag struggles to build on the success of his first season in charge when leading United back to the Champions League and winning the League Cup.
Defeat against Chelsea would raise further doubts about his future, but Ten Hag said he was confident about the team’s progress after winning five out of its last six games in the league before Newcastle.
“Still we are in the ranking. Of course we dropped, but are not too far away so we are OK,” he said.