Man United Bans High-Profile Journalists from Erik ten Hag’s Press Conference amid Claims of Dressing Room Discord

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Manchester United took the draconian step of banning media outlets from Erik ten Hag’s press conference.

The struggling club took drastic action against Sky Sports, the Mirror, ESPN and the Manchester Evening News over reports that United players are beginning to turn on manager Ten Hag.

Piers Morgan led the outcry, saying: ‘WTF? I hope every other journalist now boycotts this press conference in solidarity with their colleagues. And yes, I’d say exactly the same if Arsenal behaved like this.

‘Pathetic. You can pull this stunt when you’re the greatest manager of all time like Sir Alex (Ferguson), but to do it when you’re as bad as Ten Hag, and the journalists are accurately reporting how bad you are, is laughable.’

Sky’s exclusion was particularly surprising coming the day after the broadcaster signed up to a new £6.7billion TV rights deal — a staggering £11million a game — with the Premier League.

Several major news outlets have been banned from attending Erik ten Hag’s press conference

United are unhappy with some of the reporting from Samuel Luckhurst of the MEN (right)

United are unhappy with some of the reporting from Samuel Luckhurst of the MEN (right)

Sky Sports chief reporter Solhekol has been banned

ESPN's Dawson is among the other journalists banned by United for their reporting

United did not allow either Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol (left) or ESPN’s Rob Dawson (right) to attend Tuesday’s press conference, ahead of the match against Chelsea at Old Trafford

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Sky’s long-standing partnership with the league, going back more than three decades, has been extended for another four years after the new TV rights package was announced on Monday.

The ban was put in place by United's communications director Andrew Ward

The ban was put in place by United’s communications director Andrew Ward

Sky will continue to dominate the top flight’s domestic coverage, showing 215 games a season from 2025 — an increase of 100 games on the current deal — compared to TNT Sports’ 52 games.

United said the bans were issued ‘not for publishing stories we don’t like, but for doing so without contacting us first to give us the opportunity to comment, challenge or contextualise’.

Ten Hag defended United’s decision to punish the four outlets, saying: ‘They should come to us first and not go around our back printing articles, that is not the right thing.

‘I think we have another relationship. They should come to us beforehand. We can have a normal and professional discussion and debate about it.’

The latest speculation over Ten Hag’s position followed Saturday’s lame defeat at Newcastle.

The Dutchman, who has had a public fall-out with Jadon Sancho and is at odds with Raphael Varane, clashed angrily with Anthony Martial at St James’ Park.

But he put on a defiant performance for the reporters who were allowed into his press conference ahead of tonight’s game against Chelsea at Old Trafford.

He insisted his players are behind him and promised to bring success to United if the club sticks together.

The Mirror's David McDonnell was also refused entry to Tuesday's manager press conference

The Mirror’s David McDonnell was also refused entry to Tuesday’s manager press conference

‘There will always be tough times in every journey,’ he said. ‘We are in the right direction. I know we will get where we want to be.

‘See my record — everywhere I was, every season, I got my targets. If we stick together, stick to the plan and the strategy, we will get where we want to be.

‘Of course, negativity is never good. You must take care it doesn’t kill the energy. But I don’t care because I know, and all the players know, we are the biggest club in the world. You get a lot of attention.

‘You know in the moment results are not going your way and you are not performing how you should, there is criticism coming. You have to deal with that.

‘We are together in that. There is no way you are alone there. We are together in that boat. We know that. So we will deal with it in togetherness.’

Saturday’s 1-0 loss to a depleted Newcastle team raised doubts over the players’ support for their manager.

Asked if he has their backing, he replied: ‘Oh yes, I am sure. You can see, for instance, the comeback against Brentford, the Burnley game, the Fulham game.

‘Every time the team is there, showing great character, great determination and resilience, so we are together. You can see you can’t play such great football as we did lately if there is no unity.

‘I know they would have dropped me against Fulham or Burnley if it was the other situation, if the environment is not right, and that is not the case.

Ten Hag has come under mounting pressure following the abject 1-0 defeat to Newcastle

Ten Hag has come under mounting pressure following the abject 1-0 defeat to Newcastle

‘If the players have a different opinion of course I will listen, but they haven’t told me that, or maybe one or two have.

‘But in general, the majority, they want to play like this.

‘When you play one bad performance, you can’t say the culture is no good. If it was a pattern that’s different, but this is not a pattern, absolutely not.

‘Everyone is giving their best, there is unity as a team.’

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