Manchester United are now eight competitive games into their first season under manager Erik ten Hag and while it hasn’t been plain sailing, they are on a run of four straight wins in the league and now have their first points on the board in this year’s Europa League campaign.
That being said, starring midfielder and fan favourite Bruno Fernandes has given more of an insight into the Dutchman’s coaching philosophy, alluding to ‘strict’ new rules and a change in atmosphere around the club.
Speaking in an exclusive with The Athletic‘s Adam Crafton, the 28-year-old playmaker revealed that, ‘first of all, he has an idea. He has a style’ and that the players have to stick to his overarching vision if they are looking to get into and stay in his team.
As he goes on to explain: “You have to follow [ten Hag’s] rules. He is strict on that. And I like that. He has brought discipline, which is something I think we missed in the past. Everyone must be on the same page.”
Planning and sticking to principles
The ‘Portuguese Magnifico’, who was United’s player of the year in 2020/21 with an incredible 28 goals and 17 assists in his debut season, drew comparisons between the former Ajax coach’s principles and that of his closest rivals in Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.
“That is what Pep and Klopp have been doing for years”, says Fernandes, “because they have stability in the club and in the way they choose the transfer market and build the team, which is really important for them to get the rewards.”
United’s newly minted no. 8 recognised ten Hag’s plans to be pragmatic in the transfer window and purchase with purpose early, citing a press conference where he insisted that he did not want to bring players ‘just for the sake of it’ and that they must fit the blueprints of what he is trying to build.
Not only is the suggestion that the club have been guilty of this in the past – to the tune of more than a billion pounds in the past decade, no less – but Bruno himself believes ‘it is something the club needs’ moving forward.
Addressing on his own dip in performances over the last two seasons, admitting he regularly fluctuates between, bad games, really good games’ and ‘normal games, the ever-creative outlet says there is still plenty of work to be done before the team is all singing from the same hymn sheet.
“We still have a margin to improve and he needs time to get the most out of us with his idea of playing. I believe we will get to the point with him where we are established as a team and everyone is on the same page.”
Even on his off days, Fernandes still plays a vital role in this current Red Devils side and has regularly deputised for Harry Maguire, now sidelined from the squad since the arrival of Lisandro Martínez who has shored up the Man United defence alongside Raphaël Varane.
Fernandes also went on to discuss Ole Gunnar Solskjær, the man who brought him to the club, noting that he did ‘great things’ during his tenure and that the players must share some responsibility for his eventual sacking.
He even touched on short-lived interim coach and would-be consultant, Ralf Rangnick, who lasted just six months at Old Trafford before abandoning the project to become Austria’s national team coach.
Once again, Bruno suggested that his turbulent time at United was more because ‘confidence was low’ among the players and, therefore, they couldn’t put his ‘intensity and pressing’ into action, not to mention many of them being Solskjær signings who were brought in with ‘different ideas’ in mind.
The attacking midfielder summarised things by circling back to the somewhat unexpected win over Liverpool, arguing that ‘nobody was betting on Man United, only ourselves’. He believes that the team must now treat the rest of the season with the same mental attitude: being supportive, positive and ‘demanding of each other in a good way’.
Featured Image: Bruno Fernandes (via Instagram)
Manchester Storm sign former NHL star Joe Morrow
Ice hockey star Manchester Storm have started the season off right not only with an opening-round victory but with a shiny new signing in former NHL pro Joe Morrow.
The hugely talented, experienced and well-travelled defenceman previously played for the Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets, making 162 appearances in five years competing at the top level, and now he’s arrived at the Storm Shelter.
A former first-round NHL draftee (ranked 23rd overall back in 2011), Morrow joins the 2023/24 roster as one of the biggest signings the Elite Ice Hockey League has seen in a decade, let alone Storm themselves.
Boasting an unrivalled pedigree here in Britain and years of experience, the 30-year-old Canadian blueliner has some serious stats to his name.
He started out by spending four years in the major juniors with Portland Winter Hawks (WHL), where he amassed 151 points (33G 118A) in 227 matches. Then, in his draft year — undoubtedly his best season — Morrow managed 64 points (17G 47A) in a 62-game campaign.
After a string of solid performances in the AHL for Providence Bruins across the 2013/14 season, Morrow eventually went on to make his full NHL debut in 2014 for the Boston Bruins, the fourth-most successful team in NHL history and would maintain his status as a top-flight skater until 2019.
Late that year 2019, the proven defender departed North America to experience Europe for the first time, joining Dinamo Minsk in Belarus before moving on to Finland and the infamous Ässät franchise for the 2020-21 season.
Following two relatively quick stays in Kazakhstan and Switzerland over the past couple of years, Morrow has now arrived in Altrincham, the home of Manchester ice hockey. It’s safe to say that not only is the club buzzing about his arrival but the rest of the EIHL are too.
Announcing the signing on Monday, 25 September, Manchester Storm revealed they had been working for months to get a deal for Morrow across the line and are obviously “delighted to able to bring in the former NHL player” and his remarkable CV.
Speaking on the acquisition, head coach Matt Ginn said: “To be able to sign a player of Joe’s calibre is huge for our group. When he became available we jumped at the opportunity to better ourselves.
His experience in the top leagues around the world, including the NHL, will be invaluable to our group. Joe will be relied upon on both sides of the puck, and I’m thrilled to bring him on board.”
With the Storm beating the Nottingham Panthers 3-2 on their opening day of this year’s campaign and Morrow still yet to be introduced to the side, the local team could be in for an electrifying season.
Featured Image — Joe Morrow/Manchester Storm (via Instagram)
The PFA offers to help resolve rift between Jadon Sancho and Erik ten Hag as exile continues
The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) has offered to help Jadon Sancho and Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag resolve their differences after the winger was reportedly exiled from first-team training and other club facilities.
As per multiple outlets, Sancho has been banned from first-team training and various other facilities around Carrington, including even the dining area after the rift between him and his coach escalated earlier this month.
The 23-year-old made a disagreement even more public after he refuted ten Hag‘s criticism of his performance levels in training on social media, insisting that he had been made a “scapegoat” for a long that the claims made during the Dutchman’s press conference were “completely untrue”.
Sancho was dropped from the squad before their 3-1 loss to Arsenal and the now out-of-favour forward has been sidelined ever since, with ten Hag supposedly demanding an apology and the United star refusing. Now, according to The Times, the PFA have decided to try and step in.
Despite Sancho now having deleted the social media post, he is said to have been barred from training for the last fortnight and instructed to train on his own; he was put on a similar private programme last season, though it was thought that was due to fitness and confidence-related issues.
As a result, the PFA have now been in contact with the club United and Sancho to try to help the two settle their differences, although it is thought there has currently “been no resolution and the winger looks set to miss the Carabao Cup match against Crystal Palace on Tuesday.”
When asked last Friday what it would take for Sancho to return, ten Hag simply said, “It depends on him.” — the suggestion being that the England international must apologise and prove himself upon his return to training before he can be considered for any squad selection again.
With numerous injuries throughout the squad, not to mention Antony also still out of the squad amidst his ongoing domestic assault allegations, everyone at the club will be hoping the two can reconcile sooner rather than later.
That being said, the 53-year-old coach does have other options when it comes to the vacant right-wing position, as many fans are calling for both Alejandro Garnacho and Facundo Pellistri to be given an extended run of games, with Marcus Rashford playing off the left or vice-versa.
Mason Mount has also returned from injury, which could see him return to the starting lineup either on the right, where he played plenty of minutes for Chelsea, or in the middle with Bruno Fernandes pushed out wide.
Meanwhile, ahead of tonight’s fixture, Sancho has now deactivated his Instagram account.