Erik ten Hag has endured a difficult start to life as Manchester United manager and a new explanation emerged as to why that may be the case, courtesy of fellow countryman Louis van Gaal.
A former Red Devils boss himself, Van Gaal has previously gone on the record to bemoan the distance United's staff and squad must travel to fulfil commerical duties while completing their pre-season campaign.
Back in 2014, the current Netherlands national team boss said: “We have to prepare for the season and when you have commercial activities and dreadful distances, having to fly a lot and the jet lag, it is not very positive for a good preparation.”
Two years later he voiced the same concern ahead of a pre-season trip to China, claiming: “I know a club like Manchester United must do that, but it is not a very good preparation.” Van Gaal managed to talk those above him into shortening the length of the trip from its original 14 days down to eight.
As for Ten Hag, his United side squad flew out to Thailand before moving on to Australia and though they looked incredibly sharp throughout they may be feeling the physical toll now the competitive action has started.
It is important to note that multiple key players did not take part in the tour, with talismanic forward Cristiano Ronaldo opting not to travel, citing family reasons as the explanation behind his absence. New signings Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez were also unable to link up with their new teammates.
Erik ten Hag was forced to take his Man Utd side to Thailand, Australia and Norway
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Following a lengthy flight back from Australia, United then jetted off to Norway to take on Atletico Madrid in another friendly before welcoming Rayo Vallecano to Old Trafford less than 24 hours later.
Fast forward to the games that matter and United have opened the new Premier League season with two defeats from two games – the second of which came in the form of a humiliating 4-0 loss away at Brentford. The Red Devils sit rock-bottom of the table for the first time in more than three decades.
The defeat at Brentford ensured Ten Hag made unwanted history as he became the first United manager since John Chapman in 1921 to lose both of his first two matches in charge. In truth, the start of the Dutch revolution has drastically underwhelmed both in terms of results and the number of new signings.
Ex-Ajax boss and Dutch football legend Marco van Basten has leapt to the defence of his fellow countryman Ten Hag following the miserable start to the season.
However, Van Basten also feels a huge contributor to United's poor start is the amount of travel the squad were forced to do during their pre-season campaign. “What I find strange is that every year in preparation they make a kind of world tour,” Van Basten told Dutch broadcaster Ziggo Sport.
“That kills the group. It's ridiculous, idiotic. They have to stop doing that. Physically, it's just heartbreakingly bad. They do everything they can to make more money, but it's nonsense.”