Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag during their victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage, London, November 2022.

7 players who have fallen out with Erik ten Hag: Martial, Sancho, Ronaldo…

There’s no doubt that Erik ten Hag earned the chance to manage Manchester United after his exploits with Ajax, but the Dutch coach hasn’t gotten to where he is today without falling out with some of his own players. 

Ten Hag is one of the most demanding managers around and his approach doesn’t always rub players the right way.

And that continues to be the case at United today. We’ve taken a look at seven players that Ten Hag has famously fallen out with.

Anthony Martial

Ten Hag and Martial were involved in an angry exchange according to The Telegraph following United’s 1-0 defeat at Newcastle in December 2023.

The United manager said he was “trying to get a reaction” with his “aggressive” coaching after Martial gestured angrily at him in response to Ten Hag singling him and Marcus Rashford out for criticism for their failure to track back at St James’ Park.

Martial is yet to complete a full 90 minutes in 2023-24 and his contract expires at the end of the season. We think it’s unlikely he’ll outlast Ten Hag at Old Trafford.

Raphael Varane

Varane is said to have fallen out with the Dutchman following United’s soul-crushing defeat in October’s Manchester derby and has barely featured in the matches since.

However, the former Ajax boss has insisted Varane’s absence is down to competition for places at Old Trafford.

“Rapha Varane? I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Ten Hag told a news conference when asked about a possible fall-out with the French World Cup winner.

“It’s rumours. Very important player, but there’s internal competition and there should be at a top club, as we are.”

Jadon Sancho

Sancho has rarely shown the kind of form that made United spend £73million on the winger in 2021 and Ten Hag dropped him from the squad to face Arsenal in September 2023.

“Jadon, on his performances in training we did not select him,” the United boss said after the 3-1 defeat.

“You have to reach a level every day at Manchester United and we can make choices in the front line. So for this game he was not selected.”

In reply, Sancho took to social media and wrote: “Please don’t believe everything you read! I will not allow people saying things that is (sic) completely untrue, I have conducted myself in training very well this week.

“I believe there are other reasons for this matter that I won’t go into, l’ve been a scapegoat for a long time which isn’t fair! “All I want to do is play football with a smile on my face and contribute to my team.

“I respect all decisions that are made by the coaching staff, I play with fantastic players and (am) grateful to do so which I know every week is a challenge.

“I will continue to fight for this badge no matter what!”

Ten Hag responded by banishing the winger from United’s first-team squad. There is now sign of a thawing in relations between the pair.

Cristiano Ronaldo

You’ll remember this one. After two highly-publicised strops, and dropping the legendary goalscorer to the bench, Ten Hag was the subject of Ronaldo’s ire during an infamous interview with Piers Morgan.

“I don’t have respect for him because he doesn’t show respect for me,” the Portugal international said on TalkTV. “Some people, they don’t want me here – not only the coach but the other two or three guys. Not only this year, but last year too.

“Honestly, I shouldn’t say that. But listen, I don’t care. People should listen to the truth. Yes, I feel betrayed.”

United made the right decision to cut Ronaldo from their squad last November, with the move being portrayed as a major victory for Ten Hag.

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo sulks during his side's victory over Real Sociedad at Anoeta, San Sebastian, Spain, November 2022.

READ: 7 times Ronaldo has sulked after being criticised: Morgan, Ten Hag…

Zidane Iqbal

“Keep the ball on the floor! Zidane! Hey! Keep the ball on the floor,” shouted Ten Hag during one of his first United training sessions. “F*cking rubbish!”

Despite going deep in four competitions last season, the United boss didn’t give Iqbal a single first-team minute. That outburst during their summer tour of Australia, if not apparent at the time, was the death knell for the youngster’s career at Old Trafford.

Ten Hag unceremoniously bundled the highly-rated talent out of the club this summer, with Iqbal joining Utrecht for a small fee.

Considering he’d signed a long-term deal with United in the summer of 2022, and played Champions League football under the previous management, this was a surprisingly brutal decision by Ten Hag.

Noa Lang

During Ajax’s Dutch cup win over Telstar in 2019, in which Lang scored his first goal, Ten Hag went after the tricky winger after detecting an attitude problem.

“Noa! You have to run deep!” Ten Hag was seen shouting before getting a reply. “You have to shut up, you have to listen, you just need to do it.

He was interrupted again and said: “No! Cut it out, it’s our game not yours.”

“It is clear that things were not right between the trainer and me,” Lang said after leaving for Club Brugge. “Everyone loved me at Ajax, except for one person.

“Many people think I am a funny, cheerful little guy who can also play football well. However, not everyone could do with that. The moment I indicated that a transfer would be better, I was no longer in the trainer’s plans.

“I wanted to be loaned, but he was so angry that he wanted to sell me. Not the management, but the trainer got his way. No, I never spoke to him again and I don’t want to.”

Lang shone in Belgium and earned a move back to his native Netherlands with PSV Eindhoven this summer.

Andre Onana

Onana was one of United’s most high-profile signings in the summer of 2023, but the Cameroon goalkeeper has fallen out with Ten Hag before at Ajax.

“Onana had been booed off the field by his own fans despite the team winning as he had conceded from a mistake, to which he said he ‘did not give a sh*t,’ The Daily Mirror said about a 2-1 win over Sparta Rotterdam in April 2022.

“The goalkeeper had already established he was on his way out of the club and Ten Hag was unimpressed by his attitude in the closing weeks of the campaign.”

He was dropped entirely from the Ajax squad for their Dutch Cup final against PSV Eindhoven at the end of the campaign, which Ten Hag’s side lost 2-1, and Onana never played for the Dutch club again.

But at least they seemed to have kissed and made up for now.

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