Manchester United U21s manager Mark Dempsey has praised Erik ten Hag for watching the club’s youngsters this weekend.
United’s U21s played West Ham in the Premier League on Friday night and Ten Hag attended the game at non-league Altrincham’s stadium Moss Lane alongside assistant manager Mitchell Van der Gaag and technical director Darren Fletcher.
It is understood the youngsters and coaching staff were not informed that Ten Hag would be attending the fixture and that his presence was a surprise. Ten Hag attended the game just hours after returning to Manchester from Chisinau.
Charlie McNeill travelled with the first-team to play FC Sheriff on Thursday and he started against West Ham. United drew 1-1 with the London club and forward Omari Forson scored his fourth goal of the new season, continuing his impressive form.
After the game, U21 manager Dempsey discussed Ten Hag’s presence and his thoughts on the U21s’ recent performances.
The U21s have played six games in the Premier League 2 this season and they are yet to win a game, but multiple players from the setup have been training with the first-team, and Dempsey lauded the impact that Ten Hag is having on the academy.
“It’s wonderful. It’s great for everyone concerned,” Dempsey told the Manchester Evening News . “I think one or two of our players went under if I’m honest, thinking the manager was here, but they have to deal with that. It’s good for him to come and see us.
“It’s healthy for everyone at the football club. It shows that he’s interested, for the boys it’s motivational. Without naming them, every player that has been with them [first-team] has come back with more belief, more energy.
“You can see that they’ve learned certain things. Of course, there’s nothing better than working with those players, they are your role models are your benchmark you know you’ve got to get to. You only ever improve by being challenged.
“I think we’ve seen lots of progress. Crystal Palace game [5-1 defeat], they were physically older and those types of things, without making excuses. They were supposed to have the weekend off, but we came in on the Saturday morning and went through things
“There’s been a steady progression since then. There have been some good performances, albeit not over the 90 minutes. They were fantastic in the first half an hour against Everton. Then against Liverpool and Fulham, some really good bits.
“I feel we dominated it more than we have than in any other game tonight, although they sat in and allowed us to at times. The disappointing thing tonight was that killer edge, that killer instinct, that our football teams have always had – we spoke about that.”