Erik ten Hag and Sir Dave Brailsford agree on key to long-term success at Man Utd

Sir Jim Ratcliffe's investment has paved the way for some new hires at Man Utd and their values align with Erik ten Hag.
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Sir Dave Brailsford has been a regular presence around Manchester United in the early days of 2024 and there are already signs of what could be a positive working relationship with manager Erik ten Hag.

INEOS director of sport Brailsford has been tasked with carrying out an initial audit of United, following confirmation that Sir Jim Ratcliffe will become the club's latest shareholder, subject to passing the Premier League's owners' and directors' test.

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Brailsford was spotted at the DW Stadium for United's 2-0 FA Cup third round win over Wigan Athletic on Monday and the former British cycling chief has met with Ten Hag. The Dutchman described those talks as 'very positive' last week and the pair seem to be aligned on their key values.

Brailsford is said to be close with United coach Steve McClaren after living in the same village during the latter's time as manager of Derby County. The pair would often meet for casual conversations and it was from there that McClaren's assistant at the time, Paul Simpson, got an insight into his methods.

“It was like gold dust, being able to sit and chat about different things,” Simpson told The Athletic recently. “Dave is very simple in his thinking, but obviously really effective.

“He’s a football fan to start with. But I think his take on it was psychology — it relates to every sport. If you make the environment good, if you have discipline, standards about yourself, if you try to get all the finer details right, then it’s not going to guarantee success, but it’s going to help you and it’ll make it a better place to be.”

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Like every Premier League manager, Ten Hag will hope for signings under a new regime but the ability to work with what the club currently have remains paramount. The Dutchman has been able to improve things since arriving in 2022 and a key tenet of his year-and-a-half at Old Trafford has been something that Brailsford evidently supports: improving standards.

"So I think in general when I came in at Man United, the standards were not right," Ten Hag told a group of journalists last summer. "That’s true. I demand the highest standards in sleep, recovery and nutrition because that makes the difference if you can perform every third or fourth day.

"That is the demand for every top football player, so at Man United we are demanding the highest standards. It was about recovery, sleep and nutrition. And we had to improve."

Ten Hag's tenure at United has not been perfect but the Dutchman has regularly enforced discipline into his squad. Cristiano Ronaldo was axed after an explosive interview with Piers Morgan and Jadon Sancho looks set to suffer the same fate, having accused his manager of lying about poor performances in training.

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Alejandro Garnacho didn't feature at all during Ten Hag's first-pre-season after turning up late to a meeting. Marcus Rashford was benched against Wolves for the same offence. For Ten Hag, the key to improving the culture at United has been in driving standards every day, so it will come as good news that those new arrivals above him are aligned.