Manchester United barred multiple high-profile soccer journalists from press conferences on Tuesday. The Manchester Evening News‘ Samuel Luckhurst, The Mirror‘s David McDonnell, ESPN‘s Rob Dawson, and Sky Sports reporter Kaveh Solhekhol could not attend United manager Erik ten Hag’s discussion with the media. It is unclear if the quartet will be allowed back into the interview room.
The move was essentially due to the aforementioned reporters publishing articles about the club’s apparent polarizing dressing room. These journalists collectively claimed that at least half of the squad has lost faith in Ten Hag. The varying reports cited the team’s style of play to ten Hag overtraining his players. There were also alleged concerns over the coach’s man-management.
Samuel Luckhurst’s piece in the Manchester Evening News piece was particularly interesting. The reporter claims the quality of recent signings does not amuse senior players. This includes Rasmus Hojlund’s $80 million deal earlier this summer. The center forward has yet to score a Premier League goal in 10 total appearances with the club. Deals for Mason Mount, Antony, and Wout Weghorst are also being questioned as well.
United says those in press conferences must ask club for comment
Ahead of the pregame press conference, United issued a statement on the decision. “We are taking action against a number of news organizations 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 contextualize,” stated the club.
“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.”
Ten Hag was, of course, asked about the move to ban several reporters during the conference. “They should have come to us first and not gone behind our back printing articles,” proclaimed the United manager. “That is not the right thing to do. We have a good relationship, they come to us beforehand, and we have a debate about it.”
Nevertheless, it would become a slippery slope if reporters must run stories by clubs before publishing articles. There would then be concerns that news outlets would, in turn, just become mouthpieces for the team.
Ten Hag insists his players still have unity with staff
The Dutchman talked about the stories regarding potential discontent inside the locker room. “Of course, there are always players in every team who are not playing and who are not as happy,” stated Ten Hag. “That’s not different, that is normal. You have to wait for the chance and that can come, but there are no issues.”
The Red Devils manager answered questions on whether the squad still backs his philosophy. “Oh yes, I am sure,” replied the Dutchman. “You can see for instance the comeback against Brentford, the Burnley game, the Fulham game – every time the team is there.”
“We’ve showed great character, great determination and resilience, so we are together. You can see you can’t play such great football, as we did recently, without unity.”
United is coming off of a defeat away to Newcastle at the weekend. The club will attempt to right the ship at home against rivals Chelsea on Wednesday. The Red Devils currently sit seventh in the top-flight table after losing six of their opening 14 league matches.
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