Tactics, food and sleep: The secrets behind Erik ten Hag’s success at Manchester United

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag looks on during a first team training session at Carrington Training Ground on May 23, 2023 in Manchester, England.
(Image credit: Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Manchester United have enjoyed their best season since the 2016/17 campaign with Erik ten Hag at the helm, the Dutchman leading the Red Devils to a League Cup win, third in the Premier League and, of course, the FA Cup final against Manchester City.

The League Cup is the first trophy Manchester United have won since the Europa League in 2017, and while supporters will hope for more prestigious triumphs in the coming years, the signs are positive for Ten Hag's future at the club. 

Fred is someone who has featured in 55 of Manchester United's games so far this season, and the Brazilian has offered an insight into the details behind Ten Hag's success at the club since arriving from Ajax in the summer of 2022. 

"He reads the game extraordinarily well and is so wise tactically," Fred tells FourFourTwo. "Beyond that, he knows how to navigate behind the scenes with the squad, knowing how to help players in every detail. 

"I can see that he’s already had a huge impact on the club and is a key element of our routine. He really cares about the quality of the food we intake as high-performance athletes. Our results show that improvement. 

"I believe I’ve improved a lot since he arrived. He enjoys good football and he’s trying to implement that, from the build-up onwards. One thing he underlines is the idea of making our game as intense as possible, because that’s how to succeed in the Premier League, where quality alone won’t win you matches.

"Perhaps that aim of having intense football stems from the Dutch football school. I enjoy it, as it fits my playing style. He cares so much about that."

Fred continues, suggesting this vision employed by Ten Hag is clear for the squad. 

"Every squad member is aware of what we should and shouldn’t be consuming to perform to the highest standard. It’s a crucial element of the modern game – as is quality of sleep – so we do the best we can to reap the rewards."

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Ryan Dabbs
Staff writer

Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.