Erik ten Hag gives his players two days off after Manchester United’s defeat by West Ham United.
United have faced a hectic schedule for several months, but we are now looking forward to a clear midweek for the first time since September.
Ten Hag uses the gap to allow its players to move away from Carrington for a while so they can recharge their batteries before the crucial campaign climax.
After losing 4-0 to Brentford in August, Ten Hag canceled a planned day off and had their players run 13.8km, the extra distance covered by their opponents during the match.
But he is taking a different approach after United played their 57th game of the season at the London Stadium, given the physical burden that has been on their bodies. Since the World Cup, United have played an average of one match every 3.8 days.
Tight shifts led to training in unusual locations. United stayed in Seville after losing in the Europa League, then traveled the next day to London for a session on the outskirts of the capital before facing Brighton in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium 48 hours later.
After the defeat at Brighton on Thursday, United stayed south and had a recovery session the next morning, only returning to Manchester in the afternoon. They did the West Ham game as a day trip, rather than staying in a hotel in London the night before.
United’s form slipped noticeably after periods of matches but Ten Hag fended off questions about fatigue to avoid the problem becoming a psychological factor for his players. But he began to explain the pressures in playing.
“It’s the first time since Christmas that these players have had a full week,” he said after losing 1-0 to West Ham. “We have to reset, reload, restore power and keep going.
“But the fatigue is in your head. If you want, if you have the desire, you can take it. It’s now up to the players, me and the coaching staff to be together, to have the desire and the belief that we can take it and this team has it.”
“You can’t feel sorry for yourself, the team sticks together, as an individual take responsibility, make sure you have energy and focus, then play as a team and you’ll get a result because we’ve had proof of that all season.
David Moyes expressed his thoughts on this subject.
“I feel for Manchester United, they had to play in Brighton on Thursday and now here on Sunday,” said the West Ham boss. “I thought she was out of Man United tonight, because of the games programme.”
United players are due to return on Wednesday, in preparation for Saturday’s home game against Wolverhampton. They are one point ahead of Liverpool in fourth place with a postponed match, and two points behind Newcastle, third, after playing the same number of matches.
United’s remaining fixtures after that will be Bournemouth away, Chelsea and Fulham at Old Trafford, ahead of the FA Cup final against Manchester City on June 3.
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(Photo: Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)
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