Erik Ten Hag’s Man United rebuild is off to a tough begin, however membership has to assist by filling holes within the squad
MANCHESTER, England — “As we speak we start a brand new season and a brand new story,” Erik ten Hag wrote in his programme notes forward of his first official recreation as Manchester United supervisor. Besides it wasn’t a brand new story in any respect. Actually, it was extra of the identical. After ending final season with seven defeats from their final 12 video games to sink to sixth within the Premier League desk, Man United started the brand new marketing campaign with one other; this time 2-1 at dwelling to Brighton.
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After the positivity of this primary summer season beneath the Dutchman, it was a harsh actuality test for many who turned up at Outdated Trafford hopeful of witnessing the beginning of a brand new period of success. Ten Hag might but deliver again the trophies supporters crave, however Brighton supplied a warning that he’s in for a tough experience.
“It’s a hell of a job,” he mentioned after changing into the second supervisor post-Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 to lose his first recreation in cost. He is not joking, both — after a shambolic first half towards Brighton throughout which Pascal Gross scored twice, Brentford away subsequent weekend immediately seems to be very daunting for a rookie supervisor and squad who seem to have the boldness of a fish driving a bicycle.
Ten Hag alluded to this concept afterwards, insisting that the self-belief of his gamers had evaporated after what he thought had been a good opening towards Graham’s Potter’s aspect, although that commentary did ignore how Leandro Trossard missed an excellent probability for the guests inside 15 seconds.
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“I believe it was an excellent begin after which after we dropped down a degree, dropped down in perception,” mentioned Ten Hag. “I can perceive that after final yr, but it surely’s not vital, as a result of they’re good gamers. Self-belief is from your self, deliver it on the pitch. I knew it may occur, however I believe we must always have achieved higher, that is clear, but in addition it won’t come in a single day.”
Maybe it must be no shock that United regarded simply as susceptible as they did final season provided that it’s largely the identical workforce. New signings Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez began towards Brighton with a 3rd, Tyrell Malacia, on the bench, however Ten Hag remains to be woefully wanting choices in midfield and up entrance. United have made Frenkie de Jong their prime midfield goal this offseason, however the Dutch worldwide remains to be at Barcelona, and in his absence, Ten Hag was compelled to select Fred and Scott McTominay because the duo in midfield. Each had days to neglect — McTominay specifically was maybe fortunate to flee a crimson card for a first-half problem — and each have been substituted within the second half.
In assault, Eriksen was pressed into motion as a false No. 9 with Anthony Martial nursing a hamstring damage within the administrators’ field and Cristiano Ronaldo not match sufficient to start out.
Ten Hag was requested in his post-match information convention whether or not he regretted the system he picked, however he replied pointedly: “If a striker was out there, I might have performed him.”
He is an efficient coach — his report at Ajax is proof — however he isn’t a magician. Whereas Manchester City, Arsenal have all strengthened over the summer season, you possibly can argue that United’s squad is now weaker — significantly when it comes to numbers — after the departures of Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata. When United wanted a purpose towards Brighton, Ten Hag needed to flip to 18-year-old Alejandro Garnacho.
Sources have informed ESPN there have been talks to signal former Stoke and West Ham striker Marko Arnautovic from Bologna after Ten Hag recognized the necessity for a ahead who could be content material for use an choice off the bench. Ten Hag is aware of the Austrian worldwide from their time collectively at FC Twente and is a fan of the 33-year-old’s character and presence within the dressing room. Negotiations are additionally ongoing with Purple Bull Salzburg relating to 19-year-old ahead Benjamin Sesko, and it’s important at the least one attacker arrives earlier than the switch deadline on Sept. 1.
By then, United will hope to have wrapped up the signing of De Jong, however the Dutchman stays locked in a battle to recuperate deferred wages from Barcelona. Equally, there are persistent rumours from his aspect that he would like to affix Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain or Bayern Munich if he is in the end compelled out at Camp Nou.
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“I do not go into names,” mentioned Ten Hag when requested in regards to the want for brand spanking new gamers. “I believe on this preseason possibly 250 gamers are linked with Man United.”
Only one or two earlier than the deadline would do, although.
Ten Hag has accepted the duty of writing United’s subsequent success story, however he cannot do it on his personal. With the identical gamers as final season, he bumped into the identical issues confronted by Ralf Rangnick and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer earlier than him and, possibly predictably, was left to reply questions on a well-known end result.
Questions, although, should be requested of the membership round him and why, with simply weeks to go earlier than the shut of the switch window, they’re nonetheless scrabbling round for gamers. With out them, United’s new period remains to be ready for lift-off.