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The Manchester United egos will be a major part of the challenge for Erik ten Hag. Even in the week that his appointment as manager was announced, Eric Bailly used Instagram to make a case to start in central defence instead of Harry Maguire.

Ralf Rangnick publicly rebuked the Ivorian defender for that on Friday, though Ten Hag has indicated in his first discussion of his new Old Trafford role that he can make the egos work to his advantage by understanding what makes players tick.

'This [the egos] is the biggest challenge for every trainer-coach at the moment,' he said. 'Those egos are also created by society, aren't they? And they are also necessary to survive in such a world. But I have to make sure they keep working together.'

Erik ten Hag insists that he can deal with the biggest egos in Manchester United's squad

Erik ten Hag insists that he can deal with the biggest egos in Manchester United's squad

Sir Alex Ferguson had his own views on players using social media. 'Get down to the library and read a book instead,' he once said. But Ten Hag made it clear that he accepted this as one of the many complexities which made a manager's job something like a social worker's these days.


'In the last century, the world was still relatively uncluttered,' he said in the interview, with Dutch newspaper Trouw. 'The internet has changed a lot. People's problems are becoming more and more complex as society becomes more and more complex. You can also see that in football players. If you want to get the most out of people, you have to take an interest in them.' 

Like Ferguson, he makes it an article of faith not to criticise players in public. At Ajax, he stood by midfielder Quincy Promes after his arrest in connection with a stabbing, for which Dutch prosecutors have since said they will press attempted murder charges.

Ten Hag told Trouw he stood by his support for dayinside the Dutch international, who is now with Spartak Moscow. 'People make mistakes. But that does not mean that I completely write off a person or that he can no longer come to me.'

Defender Eric Bailly made his desire to start under ten Hag known on social media this week

Defender Eric Bailly made his desire to start under ten Hag known on social media this week

Ten Hag stood by Ajax's Quincy Promes when he was arrested in connection with a stabbing

Ten Hag stood by Ajax's Quincy Promes when he was arrested in connection with a stabbing

He said that he also remained a friend of Marc Overmars, his director of football at Ajax, who left the club after it emerged he had sent inappropriate messages to female colleagues.

'Yes, we are still in touch,' Ten Hag said. 'And that is more than business. My job is to keep things together. That includes sticking up for people. I also do that from my heart. We humans are in this world to help each other and not to shoot each other.'

Many of his former players have spoken of the extraordinary loyalty the 52-year-old can command, though there is a consensus that adapting to his methods can take time.

by Newbie (2 points)

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