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Featured Image Credit: The Athletic
Manchester United suffered one of the most embarrassing Premier League defeats of the season so far back in August, losing 4-0 to Brentford.
The score line is hard enough, but the manner of the defeat made it so much worse.
A few days after the fixture, it was revealed that Erik ten Hag had cancelled the following day's planned day off in order to punish the players for such a poor performance.
During the session the following day, Ten Hag made every player run 13.8 kilometres, representing the difference in total distance covered by each team in the fixture the day before.
However, he did not just blame the players. Ten Hag himself reportedly ran the distance himself too to show the players that the loss was a collective failure not just a failure by the players.
🗞 After Erik ten Hag told #mufc players they had run 13.8km less than Brentford and instructed them all to run that distance, he was prepared to shoulder some of the blame by matching them step for step over the full distance. [@MullockSMirror]— UtdDistrict 🔰 (@UtdDistrict) August 23, 2022
This move has since become a famous example of Ten Hag's management style so far at United, and speaking to the Athletic, current on-field captain Bruno Fernandes has revealed how the moment felt and why it's changed the squad.
“He went straight to his rules, to his demands, what he wants from us," Fernandes said. "He’d say, ‘I want to play with us always pressing on the ball, be hungry to do good things, to fight for the team, to be tough to beat’.
"I could feel in the training sessions after Brentford that we were going to do something different.”
The running gave the players a very real perspective change in how hard they should be working to win in the Premier League, and Fernandes has said it was a "good" thing that the players had to endure this.
“It is good that everyone takes the blame themselves because it was not everyone doing the right things,” Fernandes says.
"That can be the players or the manager, but normally it is the player and the manager together.
"As a message, it was good for the team. Discipline is what he wants and we have to follow the rules."
“Players do not like to run, sometimes a manager makes choices that you do not understand, but you will probably understand the benefit later on.”
Fernandes also detailed how personal Erik ten Hag is with each players development, giving an example of how he calls players in for one-on-one meetings in order to improve their abilities and adaptation to Ten Hag's system.
“Individually, he calls the players many times to show us clips and he will say, ‘Here, I prefer you to do another kind of thing’. That is good, because players need time to get the best out of the idea that he wants to do.”
Manchester United's next fixture is against Pep Guardiola's Manchester City, which will take place on 2 October in the Premier League.
They have won four Premier League fixtures on the bounce, however this will be the toughest test yet for Erik ten Hag and his squad.