Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag insists there are “no issues” amongst his playing group despite the club banning journalists from four outlets for reporting the Dutchman had lost half of the dressing room.
Journalists from ESPN, the Daily Mirror, the Manchester Evening News and Sky Sports — who just signed a new Premier League rights deal for $AUD12 billion — were banned by United after penning stories about player unrest.
Stream Over 50 Sports Live & On-Demand with Kayo. New to Kayo? Start Your Free Trial Today >
Speaking ahead of the club’s Premier League fixture against Chelsea, Ten Hag acknowledged not every player in his team would be happy, especially if they are not playing.
But the former Ajax boss shot down suggestions about significant unrest amongst the playing group.
“Of course there are always in every team players who are not playing or less playing who are less happy, that is not different to normal, in some circumstances you need that, they have to wait for their chance and that can come,” Ten Hag said.
“But no, there are no issues.”
United also issued a statement explaining why they had taken the drastic measure of banning certain publications from the press conference.
“We’re taking action against a number of news organisations today, not for publishing stories we don’t like, but for doing so without contacting us first to give us the opportunity to comment, challenge or contextualise,” the statement read, per The Telegraph.
“We believe this is an important principle to defend and we hope it can lead to a re-set in the way we work together.”
United are coming off a 1-0 defeat away to Newcastle United but prior to that, the Red Devils had won five of their last six Premier League fixtures and kept three clean sheets in that period.
It is those results that Ten Hag pointed to when he argued there was plenty of “unity” in his squad, even if “one or two” have had a different opinion about how the team should play.
“Oh yes, I am sure, you can see for instance the comeback against Brentford, the Burnley game, the Fulham game, every time the team is there, showed great character, great determination, resilience, so we are together,” Ten Hag said.
“You can see you can’t play such great football as we did lately if there is no unity.
“I listen always to my players and I give them always opportunities to tell – if the players have a different opinion of course I will listen.
“But they haven’t told me. Or maybe one or two, but it is about in general, the majority, they want to play like this: proactive, dynamic, brave – that is what they want.”
Ten Hag’s claim about team unity will no doubt be put under the microscope when United take on Chelsea on Thursday at 7:15am (AEDT).