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 — “At present we start a brand new season and a brand new story,” Erik ten Hag wrote in his programme notes forward of his first official sport as Manchester United supervisor. Besides it wasn’t a brand new story in any respect. The truth is, 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 house to Brighton.
After the positivity of this primary summer season underneath the Dutchman, it was a harsh actuality verify for many who turned up at Outdated Trafford hopeful of witnessing the beginning of a brand new period of success. Ten Hag could 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 sport in cost. He is not joking, both — after a shambolic first half towards Brighton throughout which Pascal Gross scored twice, Brentford away subsequent weekend instantly appears to be like very daunting for a rookie supervisor and squad who seem to have the arrogance of a fish using 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 facet, although that remark did ignore how Leandro Trossard missed a very good likelihood for the guests inside 15 seconds.
“I feel it was a very good begin after which after we dropped down a stage, dropped down in perception,” mentioned Ten Hag. “I can perceive that after final yr, however it’s not mandatory, 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 feel we must always have achieved higher, that is clear, but additionally it won’t come in a single day.”
Maybe it needs to be no shock that United seemed simply as weak as they did final season provided that it’s largely the identical staff. 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 high midfield goal this offseason, however the Dutch worldwide remains to be at Barcelona, and in his absence, Ten Hag was pressured to choose Fred and Scott McTominay because the duo in midfield. Each had days to overlook — McTominay particularly was maybe fortunate to flee a crimson card for a first-half problem — and each have been substituted within the second half.
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 accessible, I’d have performed him.”
He is an efficient coach — his document at Ajax is proof — however he isn’t a magician. Whereas Manchester Metropolis, Arsenal have all strengthened over the summer season, you’ll be able to 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 objective towards Brighton, Ten Hag needed to flip to 18-year-old Alejandro Garnacho.
Sources have instructed 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 can 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 Crimson Bull Salzburg concerning 19-year-old ahead Benjamin Sesko, and it’s important at the very 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 get well deferred wages from Barcelona. Equally, there are persistent rumours from his facet that he would favor to affix Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain or Bayern Munich if he is in the end pressured out at Camp Nou.
“I do not go into names,” mentioned Ten Hag when requested concerning the want for brand spanking new gamers. “I feel 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 consequence.
Questions, although, must 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.