MANCHESTER UNITED ditched their sponsored Carabao Cup final suits — because it would take the players too long to get changed.
Boss Erik ten Hag was unhappy at his tight pre-match schedule being altered.
He did not want the Paul Smith-sponsored outfits being worn on arrival at Wembley, as players would then need to change into training gear for their pre-match walkabout on the pitch.
Ten Hag — who celebrated the 2-0 Carabao Cup win over Newcastle with Sir Alex Ferguson — was backed by club officials.
The players were expected to wear their club suits when they arrived at the national stadium.
After all Paul Smith is a sponsor and this was a stage to show off their outfits as the players disembarked their team bus which had to travel about 250 yards from their Novotel base.
But Ten Hag didn’t like the idea so rang up a club official.
The official was on the other side of the world and asleep but took the call and listened to the manager’s concerns.
By wearing the club suits, he explained, rather than their training kit, it would take an extra ten minutes out their schedule.
They would have to change out the suits and then put their training kit on once at Wembley to warm up, before putting on their match strips.
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He had calculated how long this would take and everything had been planned to the minute.
And for familiarity, they always wore training kit on the coach when playing away as well.
Ten Hag leaves nothing to chance, every detail no matter how insignificant it might be is very significant him. From the very big calls, to the minutiae.
So Ten Hag got his way on the suits, they arrived ready in their training kit. He has control, he gets his way. That is what Manchester United needed, someone to have that control.
It is the big thing Sir Alex Ferguson wanted and got and is now recognised in the success now being experienced by the Dutchman.
It is why parallels may soon start to be drawn.
In the week leading up to Thursday’s Europa League clash with Barcelona and this Carabao Cup final, Ten Hag had gone out for dinner with Sir Alex to tap into his knowledge.
No surprise then when totally unprompted on Friday he raised the subject of Newcastle’s ‘annoying’ time wasting.
Planting just a little seed in referee David Coote’s head. It could have been Fergie himself sat there – little details.
Ten Hag gets the big decisions right too. Like convincing the club board that at 30-years-old and after ten years and five Champions League at Real Madrid, Casemiro still had more to give and £70million was a price worth paying.
Watch the player’s delight when he scores in this final, how he sinks to his knees with emotion when Marcus Rashford makes it two and revs the crowd up after making a block tackle later.
This is not just a last big pay day for him. Ten Hag looked into the character as well as the player, it’s what Sir Alex always did.
He got it right too when he convinced everyone that at 5ft 9” Lisandro Martinez would work as a centre-back in English football and was worth the £56.7million.
The little guy was immense at Wembley as he had been last Thursday against Barcelona.
It is not just the additions but what Ten Hag has done with what he inherited, including getting Cristiano Ronaldo out.
The transformation in Rashford, who is enjoying his best season yet, is of course the stand-out example.
You could go on throughout most of the team. Ten Hag looks at the whole but takes time with the individual.
He has got Manchester United back and given fans hope again as he did pre-match in the Carabao Cup final programme.
Ten Hag said: “From the moment I walked into Old Trafford last summer, I stressed that the long-term aim for us is to return to a state of consistently winning the biggest trophies available.
“Once you win one, it can become a habit. That first taste of silverware makes you want more and more.
“I think we are still just at the beginning of what we can achieve together.”
He believes it, the players believe it and most importantly the fans believe it.
The biggest cheer was reserved for the boss when the steps were climbed by all to lift the trophy.
Home and away supporter Paul Finley, 36, was at Wembley for this.
Finley said: “For some time I have just wanted to go to watch my team with my mates and enjoy what I see on the pitch.
“Erik Ten Hag has made that happen. He has singlehandedly transformed this club. It is amazing what he is doing.”
A club that was broken has been rebuilt.
Manchester United and Ten Hag – it suits.