Erik ten Hag’s mantra and why new Man Utd boss makes "quack" sounds in training

Erik ten Hag will be hoping his quackers training methods don't go down like a dead duck with Manchester United's pampered stars.

The Dutchman, 52, has achieved great success at Ajax with a possession-based game, winning two Eredivisie titles and reaching the latter stages of the Champions League in 2019. His success – coupled with the attractive style of football that he coaches – made him the perfect candidate for United when they were choosing their new boss.

But the club's overhyped prima donnas will soon find out that good is not good enough under their new leader, who demands near perfection at all times. Esbjerg fB defender Kevin Conboy played under Ten Hag at Utrecht from 2015 to 2017 – he spoke exclusively to Daily Star Sport about the 52-year-old's slightly unusual training methods and his football mantra.

"The way I would describe him is that it didn’t matter if you won 4-0 or if in your eyes you had a good game. He could say 'very good, but there are always things to improve,'" Conboy, a former Denmark international, told us.

"His mantra was always that 'good is not good enough. It can always be better.' If we won 4-0, it could be 5-0, but in general, he just lived and breathed football."

A manager like Ten Hag doesn't get his methods across without extensive work on the training pitch. And the former centre-back had a curious way of ensuring his ideals about passing and possession remained central in players' minds.

"It was the same in every training exercise," Conboy, 34, continues. "Even a simple passing drill, he would be over you all the time. You could have ten good passes and one that bounced a little bit and he would make a frog sound, almost like a duck's quack, like he was jumping as it had to be on the floor.

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"It sounds like the sort of thing Felix Magath might do, you know, but it was not, because he had a sense of humour as he did it." How funny United's players will find such methods should Ten Hag choose to employ them at Old Trafford remains to be seen.

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