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Manchester United

'There was no spirit' - Ten Hag slams Man Utd transfer business in post-Sir Alex Ferguson era

8:08 AM EST 1/7/23
Erik ten Hag
Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag has hit out at the club's transfer strategy in the years following the departure of legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
  • United without Premier League trophy since 2012
  • Ten Hag blasts previous signings' mentality
  • Praised summer acquisitions

WHAT HAPPENED? Since the turn of the century, including the Sir Alex era, United have spent over £2bn ($2.42bn) on new acquisitions. Since the Scot's retirement, though, the club have won just three trophies, none of which includes a Premier League title - the FA Cup in 2016, and a League Cup and Europa League double in 2017. New Red Devils boss Ten Hag feels the fault lies not with quality of the signings acquired, but their mentality.

WHAT THEY SAID: “Manchester United didn't exactly have the fear factor last season," the Dutchman told reporters. “There was no spirit. I saw no team dynamic in the squad. The mental resilience was very low. I saw that as an outsider - and also noticed it in my first weeks at the club. I looked at the culture of the club. I asked ‘how did Manchester United become great?’ And for me, it was about Sir Alex Ferguson.

"His teams excelled in togetherness, collectivity, spirit. You just couldn't beat them. When we get players, you look at their quality and technical skills. But you also look at their mental quality, that mental resilience - and we had to bring that back. Most purchases have been average - and at United average is not good enough. United's shirt weighs heavily. Only real personalities, who can perform under great pressure, can play here."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Despite a nervy start to the season, Ten Hag's side have lost just one league game since the start of October, and are on a winning streak of six straight matches in all competitions. While much of their recent form can be attributed to the fine displays of academy graduate Marcus Rashford, the Dutch tactician also pointed towards the mentalities of his summer signings.

“We needed personalities," Ten Hag declared. "That's why the acquisition of Casemiro was so important. Along with Raphael Varane, we now have a second player who has experience of winning titles. [Tyrell] Malacia, [Lisandro] Martinez, Casemiro, Antony are all fighters, while Christian Eriksen is a technical winner and a great personality. We want the best of the best."


WHAT NEXT FOR UNITED? After getting past Everton in the FA Cup third round on Friday night, Ten Hag will lead his side out against Charlton in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, where a place in the semi-finals is up for grabs.