Erik ten Hag needs to do more than just change style of football: Schmeichel

Newly appointed Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag needs to instil a spirit of teamwork and improve the dressing room culture, feel former players Peter Schmeichel and Nemanja Vidic.

Manchester United FC players from left Mikael Silvestre, Wes Brown, Ronny Johnsen, Peter Schmeichel, Nemanja Vidic, Quinton Fortune and Louis Saha at a media interaction session in Chennai. - M. VEDHAN

The current Manchester United team looks like a shadow of its past self and its form this season, and a five-year trophyless run attests to the same.

While its style of football has been rendered ineffective at the biggest stages, a much deep-rooted problem seems to be plaguing the club. This sentiment was echoed by former players Mikael Silvestre, Wes Brown, Ronny Johnsen, Peter Schmeichel, Nemanja Vidic, Quinton Fortune and Louis Saha at a media interaction as part of ‘United We Play,’ a grassroots development initiative of Apollo Tyres and Manchester United.

“It is important that a team has a system and a structure and the players respect it. The club comes first and the players need the mentality to fight and uphold the values of the club,” said former striker Saha.

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With interim manager Ralf Rangnick confirming that 'Top Four'  is all but lost after Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Arsenal, further questions were raised about the onerous task newly appointed manager Erik ten Hag will have next season.

“He [Ten Hag] has to work on the culture of the dressing room first and then the playing. But the good thing is that he has time till the end of the season to figure out what he has to do. I have confidence in him but it is not going to be easy,” said former United goalkeeper and treble-winner Schmeichel.

‘Can’t just blame Maguire’

A major issue at United this season has been its leaky defence, and while the majority of the fanbase and media have isolated Harry Maguire as the root of all problems, former defender Vidic feels the whole team needs to take responsibility.

“It is about playing as a team so you can’t just blame him [Maguire]. This season we have had injury problems and did not have a consistent centre-back pairing. If you see, the team has conceded more than 50 goals. That is not a sign of a good team. But this is not the job of defenders alone. When I played we had players like Wayne [Rooney] and Louis [Saha] who were attackers but contributed to protecting the goal as well.”

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