Former Manchester United midfielder Marcel Sabitzer has described Erik ten Hag as a "man obsessed with details" amid scrutiny over the Dutchman's record so far this season.
Ten Hag delivered United's first trophy in six years last season when the team won the Carabao Cup at Wembley in February – it was also just a fourth piece of silverware for the club since Sir Alex Ferguson had retired a decade earlier.
But too many performances have been subpar and it is reflected in the results – five defeats in the first ten home Games of 2023/24 was their worst start at Old Trafford since 1930/31.
Sabitzer spent the latter half of last season on loan from Bayern Munich – offered to the club in late January after limited Game time in Germany and following injury to Christian Eriksen. The experienced Austrian made 18 appearances in all comPetitions and found that he liked Ten Hag.
"[He is] a man obsessed with details," Sabitzer told The Athletic. "You can wake him up at 3am, he'd tell you his whole match plan by heart. He's very knowledgeable about Football and tactics — a very hard worker, a perfectionist."
Sabitzer added that there is no second guessing with the former Ajax boss, who has very publicly fallen out with Jadon Sancho in the early part of this season.
"He's very straight with you," Sabitzer continued. "When I had a bad Game, he showed me some situations and told me how to do it better next time. I liked that. You knew where you stood with him. He never threw you under the bus. Instead, he told players to go out and do better in the next Game. I learned a lot about Football working under him. He’s a very good coach."
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As 90min reported in April, Ten Hag had wanted to keep Sabitzer on a permanent transfer when his loan deal was to expire in the summer. The player was happy at United, having settled well, and the club was understood to be his first choice in the event of moving on from Bayern.
However, by the end of May staying at Old Trafford seemed unlikely. United had hoped to seal a transfer for around £10m, but Bayern valued Sabitzer first at just under £14m and then north of £20m, making the difference in valuation too much to overcome. When he ultimately left Bayern for Borussia Dortmund a couple of months later, the fee was reported between £13m and £17m.
It was a similar story during the talks over Benjamin Pavard, with Bayern raising the asking price from £30m to £34.5m plus add-ons. During that time, Harry Maguire’s proposed £30m switch to West Ham also collapsed. Eventually, Pavard was sold to Inter instead for £28m.
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