New Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is heading to England early to prepare for his first season in the Premier League. It is no secret that
New Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is heading to England early to prepare for his first season in the Premier League. It is no secret that a lot of change is required at Old Trafford, but the Dutchman appears to be completely aware of that and has given himself plenty of time to put in the groundwork.
The Mirror report that Ten Hag terminated his contract six weeks early so that he could kickstart his project at United as he has recognised the need for the extra time in charge. The 52-year-old is expected to watch the Red Devils’ match against Crystal Palace on the final day of the season from the stands, where he will learn if his side will be playing in the Europa League or European Conference League.
Fans, Ralf Rangnick and the higher powers at United will all have different ideas on what Ten Hag should prioritise upon his arrival. Here are five issues that urgently need resolving if the manager is to have a fruitful first campaign in England.
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Ten Hag himself has admitted that he needs to organise who will make up his backroom staff at United. Current Ajax assistant Mitchell van der Gaag, who has been Ten Hag’s assistant since 2021, is expected to follow the 52-year-old to the Theatre of Dreams.
Former England boss Steve McClaren has also been linked with a return to United. He spent two years at the club, 1999 to 2001, working under Sir Alex Ferguson and could bring experience and know-how to the dressing room.
Speaking on Sunday, Ten Hag said: “A number of things still need to be organised in the staff and also in the selection. We will be working intensively on this from tomorrow.”
David De Gea has been impressive at United this season, but Ten Hag must decide if he will be his no.1 next season. If he decides to stand by the Spaniard then he must convince Dean Henderson to stay.
The Sunder People have reported that the 25-year-old is ‘ready to quit’ United if he does not receive the guarantee from Ten Hag that he will be United no.1 next season. The shot-stopper pushed for a move in the January transfer window to Newcastle but Rangnick did not let the move pass.
However, the Magpies remain interested in the former Sheffield United loanee. Eddie Howe is said to view Henderson as a long-term successor of Martin Dubravka.
Serious need for a striker
With Edinson Cavani out of contract in the summer, Cristiano Ronaldo is set to be United’s only out and out striker option upon Ten Hag’s arrival. It is well reported that the club will be in the market for a forward in the summer, but the manager will be keen to get that piece of business done sooner rather than later.
Versatile option Marcus Rashford could also fill in up top, though the academy product was reportedly considering whether his future still lies with the Red Devils. Mason Greenwood has also played as a striker too, but he is currently unavailable.
Benfica star Darwin Nunez has been named as one of United’s targets heading into the window, though it remains to be seen just how important Champions League football is to the Uruguayan given the amount of interest in the forward.
United’s defence has been at the heart of their problems this season. Raphael Varane struggled to find his best form in the Premier League, Harry Maguire struggled and those waiting in the wings never hit the mark when they were called upon by Rangnick.
The summer allows Ten Hag to bring in some defenders of his own, and it doesn’t appear that he will need to persuade some of his current options to depart. Manchester Evening News report that Phil Jones and Eric Bailly have both already declared that they will be leaving the Theatre of Dreams at the end of the season.
Villarreal central defender Pau Torres is reported to be one of Ten Hag’s targets, and the Spaniard has been linked with United previously. Though the Dutchman could also be keen to reunite with Ajax defender Jurrien Timber as well.
It is hard to know what will change the mood at United, but it is something that Ten Hag will deem a priority. All season long there has been an aura of toxicity surrounding the team, both on and off the pitch, and the club will struggle to reach the heights they once did whilst that remains the case.
Stories emerging of captaincy issues, players questioning training routines and general unhappiness within the squad only highlights the deep-rooted issues at United that Ten Hag must get to the bottom of. Perhaps the fresh face in the dugout with a clear philosophy and drive to succeed could be the answer to United’s prayers.