Rio Ferdinand thinks the “noises” he’s hearing from the Man Utd dressing room are more important than the positive pre-season results.
Erik ten Hag has a big job on his hands at Old Trafford after the Red Devils finished last season in sixth, 13 points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham and 35 points behind Man City.
There were rumours of discontent in the dressing room with Paul Scholes revealing that Jesse Lingard told him the atmosphere was inside the club was a “disaster”.
Ten Hag may not have landed all of his top transfer targets just yet but he has overseen three wins, two draws and a loss in pre-season so far.
But Man Utd legend Ferdinand doesn’t waste his time thinking about pre-season results, instead he is paying attention to the positive reaction from “individuals” on the inside of the club.
Ferdinand told the Daily Mirror: “I don’t really look at results in pre-season. I’ve played far too many games in pre-season and lost and it had no reflection on the coming season. I think it’s more about the noises I’m hearing out of the training ground from the players, listening to individuals talk really positively… there seems to be a bit of a spring in their step now.
“You don’t want to get too carried away, but it’s positive to hear the messaging and direction in training… It seems like there’s a lot more clarity and there’s a better understanding of how they want to play. And they’re enjoying it, most importantly.
“And the discipline, I read an article about a player being dropped for a couple of games – completely from the squad – because of punctuality problems. Things like that are elements that I’ve been calling for and wanting to see in the last few years. At the moment, in pre-season when there’s no pressure, it seems to be going quite well.”
Ferdinand hopes it’s obvious that Man Utd have a proper Ten Hag identity this season after a lack of consistency in recent years.
Ferdinand added: “Finding an identity they stick to and you go ‘that’s Manchester United’ by the way they’re playing [should be the target]. It doesn’t have to be reflective of the years gone by, it’s about [saying] ‘that’s Erik ten Hag’s team – you can tell’. I want that first and foremost. I’d love to see that.
“And then consistency. Not good one week or average next week… a good level of consistency throughout the season would be great. If they can get their hands on a trophy, then great. I just want to see improvement.
“If Man Utd don’t win a trophy this year but they really improve and you go ‘woah, I can see a big difference now’ – I’m happy with that because it’s a step in the right direction. If they’re much the same as what we’ve seen in the last couple of seasons and they win a trophy, I’m still going to be sceptical. I want the consistency, philosophy and identity of the team to be there, so long-term it looks better.”