The Dutchman is never afraid to make a change, even if it means undermining an earlier decision he has made with the starting line up, and his quick thinking has paid dividends on many occasions this season.
Hauling a player off at half-time might come across to some as a mark of disrespect, but the United manager puts the team’s results above anything else, including his own authority.
Ten Hag has made half-time changes during 14 of United’s 43 matches this season. They have won on 11 of those games while losing only three. Only once did the changes lead to a worse result than the team had at half-time, the 1-0 defeat at home to Real Sociedad in September.
GOAL takes a look at the six occasions when Ten Hag’s half-time substitutions have truly swung the match United’s way…
Omonia Nicosia 2-3 Man Utd: Rashford makes all the difference
Just days after being trounced 6-3 by Manchester City, United found themselves 1-0 down at half-time to minnows Omonia in Cyprus.
Ten Hag was ruthless at the break, hauling off Tyrell Malacia – who had given the ball away in the build up to Karim Ansarifard giving the hosts a shock lead – for Luke Shaw and Jadon Sancho for Marcus Rashford.
Rashford equalised seven minutes after coming on with a shot from outside the box, and then set up a similar goal for Anthony Martial with a clever flick off his backheel.
Rashford then combined with Cristiano Ronaldo to slot in the third and effectively clinch three valuable Europa League points.
Wolves 0-1 Man Utd: Rashford learns from his big mistake
When the United team sheet landed on New Year’s Eve, jaws dropped. Despite being in the form of his life, Rashford was not in the starting XI at Molineux. Was he struggling with a knock? No.
“Internal discipline” was how Ten Hag described the reason for leaving his talismanic striker out, and it later emerged Rashford had overslept and arrived late to a team meeting on the morning of the game.
However, Rashford’s importance to the team quickly became apparent as they struggled in a tough game against Wolves. Turning to the player who had fallen foul of the team’s rules risked undermining the very decision to leave him out, but Ten Hag swallowed his pride and brought his naughty boy on.
Rashford won the game with a tremendous solo goal and at full-time embraced Ten Hag, showing player and manager had already moved on from the incident.
Man Utd 2-1 Man City: Martial goes off, Rashford wins it
United and City went in at half-time in the derby with the game goalless after an evenly matched 45 minutes, although there was concern among Reds that Rashford would have to go off after requiring treatment for an apparent muscle problem.
Ten Hag did make a change at the break, but instead it was Martial who came off, for Antony. The Brazilian did not make much of a difference, but the decision to allow Rashford to run off his problem was a masterstroke.
After Jack Grealish gave City the lead, Rashford played a huge role in Bruno Fernandes’ highly controversial equaliser.
He then knocked home Alejandro Garnacho’s cross to complete a remarkable comeback victory over United’s local rivals, who were in a fit of rage.
Man Utd 2-1 Barcelona: Antony puts Weghorst in the shade
After a brave display at the Camp Nou, United were staring defeat to Barcelona in the face after falling behind at Old Trafford to a Robert Lewandowski penalty.
Xavi Hernandez’s side had the game where they wanted it and were in an ideal position to grind out a 1-0 win. Ten Hag, though, reacted quickly, taking the struggling Wout Weghorst off and bringing on Antony.
United suddenly had what they did not have in the first half, a focal point in attack.
Even though he no played no part in Fred’s equaliser, Antony’s mere presence sparked the goal and United suddenly had the momentum and a booming Old Trafford behind them.
The Red Devils’ swarmed the Catalans for most of the second half and Antony could have put United in front long before he eventually won the game, proving the pinball wizard after Alejandro Garnacho and Fred fired shots against Barca bodies.
Man Utd 3-1 West Ham: Casemiro steadies the ship
It was perhaps natural that United would experience a mini-slump three days after lifting the Carabao Cup at Wembley and six days after knocking Barcelona out of the Europa League.
Ten Hag had made six changes to the team and they were badly overrun in the first half by David Moyes’ side, with Michail Antonio missing two good chances to put the Hammers ahead.
Ten Hag turned to Casemiro to bring some more power to United’s midfield, hooking Scott McTominay.
West Ham in fact took the lead in the second half, but with Casemiro on the pitch and more cavalry arriving in the form of Rashford and Lisandro Martinez, United turned the match around, with the Brazilian at the heart of the comeback.
Man Utd 4-1 Real Betis: Wan-Bissaka shackles Juanmi
United were enjoying a pretty comfortable evening against a disappointing Real Betis side on Thursday, but there was one area of major concern: The Spanish side’s attacks down the left flank through Juanmi.
Diogo Dalot kept on being beaten by the former Southampton forward, who set up Ayoze Perez’s controversial equaliser and nearly forced another goal after pouncing on a poor David de Gea pass.
United should have been out of sight in the first half, but instead were level at half-time
Ten Hag reacted by taking Dalot off for the more defensive-minded Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who helped the defence get a grip on Juanmi and United got the big win they knew they were capable of.