Erik ten Hag is already changing the way Manchester United players play!


Man United ended their stay in Melbourne with another win against Crystal Palace and their identity crisis might be over.
Manchester United donned their new white kit against Crystal Palace when orange would have been the more appropriate colour. The second goal in their defeat of Crystal Palace, crafted through a visionary pass, a deft touch, intuitive movement and perceptive passes, was the embodiment of the Total Football pioneered in the Netherlands.
Marcus Rashford had the privilege to end the move Bruno Fernandes started. Diogo Dalot immediately identified his compatriot once the ball had rolled in. There was a Dutch flavour to it, with Donny van de Beek claiming the assist.
At the risk of getting ahead of ourselves, United’s identity crisis appears to be over now they have a permanent manager who leaves the office to coach the players. Day by day, Erik ten Hag’s approval ratings grow.
Caution should still be preached after three months, never mind three games. United are midway through their pre-season schedule and the players have adapted to Ten Hag’s demands and approach impressively, albeit against weakened teams. Palace were devoid of Wilfried Zaha, a tormentor of United at Selhurst Park in May, as well as other regulars.
Ten Hag was present that day in May and United were unrecognisable at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. At one point, Fernandes received the ball and last season would have immediately hit an inswinger. This time, he kept the ball ticking over, aligned with Ten Hag’s patient and proactive possession-based approach.
The thought of a possession-based Dutch United coach might bring out a fan in a cold sweat yet this United bears little resemblance to Louis van Gaal’s soporific side. At one stage Dalot and Tyrell Malacia – the full-backs – were positioned as advanced attacking midfielders.
United have a manager who is not just disciplined but decisive. The reckless Scott McTominay was the only removal at the interval and Van de Beek created a goal inside the first five minutes.
Ten Hag was largely inanimate in the technical area, even when things became fraught as Palace softened up United’s regulars. Other than an instructive exchange with the appreciative Malacia, he appeared content with leaving the game management to the players.