Erik ten Hag has told the Man Utd hierarchy to halt any plans to offer players new contracts for the time being, according to reports.
The Dutchman took over at Old Trafford at the end of last season with interim boss Ralf Rangnick leaving his position following a disappointing campaign that saw the Red Devils miss out on Champions League qualification.
Ten Hag spent over £200m on new players this summer as the Man Utd board backed him in the transfer market with Antony and Casemiro the two most expensive additions.
Manchester United just missing ‘hard work’ rather than players like De Bruyne and Haaland
He got off to the worst possible start with a 2-1 loss to Brighton at Old Trafford and a 4-0 humiliation on the road at Brentford – but four Premier League wins later and things were starting to look rosy for Ten Hag.
Man Utd were brought back down to earth with a bang on Sunday, though, as arch-rivals Man City put on an attacking masterclass to beat them 6-3.
It highlighted the huge gulf between the sides and how much work Ten Hag will have to do to get nearer their neighbours.
And the Daily Telegraph claims that Ten Hag has now told the Man Utd board ‘not to hand out any new contracts until he has determined who warrants them’ as he only wants players with the right characteristics to remain at the club.
A senior source told the newspaper: “He’s still in that phase of ‘Let’s see how people are, let’s see what they are up to’. How they adjust, how they handle pressure, how they handle not being picked, how they deal with different challenges.
“He’s still understanding them and over the next month or so he’ll start getting clarity in his head.”
It could create a lot of uncertainty as Man Utd get closer to the summer with Cristiano Ronaldo, David de Gea, Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw, Fred and Diogo Dalot among eight senior players out of contract in the summer but options to stay until 2024.
Ten Hag is still deciding who has the ‘stomach and quality’ in his squad to be successful at the club going forward with the Man Utd boss ‘keen to ensure players do not fall into comfort zones and that any new deals are hard won’.
It is understood that Ten Hag wants to move away from the ‘culture’ created at the club by former executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, which has seen players rewarded with underserved long-term contracts.
The report adds: ‘Insiders claimed the club had been “bitten on the ar*e by carrying people” in the past and that a desire for hungrier, more motivated players – coupled with the importance of keeping the wage bill in check – would drive change.’