Erik ten Hag: The five biggest problems Man Utd’s new manager must sort this summer
We take a look at which areas Manchester United’s next boss has to fix when he takes over at Old Trafford.
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Erik ten Hag has been confirmed as Manchester United’s next permanent manager, but bringing success back to Old Trafford will not be an easy task.
It’s a challenge that, in the main, David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer failed at, while the experienced Ralf Rangnick has not been able to deliver an upturn in fortunes this season.
If ten Hag wants to compete with Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, he’ll have to make overarching changes across the club that will take years to instil.
But what about this summer and the immediate concerns for the 52-year-old? We’ve taken a look at the immediate problems ten Hag will have to deal with when he walks through the door at United.
Some of this will be handled before ten Hag arrives at the club with the likes of Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Edinson Cavani and Juan Mata all expected to leave for free, while Nemanja Matic has also confirmed he’ll be off at the end of the season.
But that won’t be the end of the departures from the Red Devils, and there are a plethora of players who have been linked with moves away from the club this season.
Dean Henderson, Phil Jones, Eric Bailly, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are among those, and ten Hag will have to quickly decide which players he wants to keep in his squad for the 2022/23 campaign.
Then there’s the returning loan players, with Axel Tuanzebe, Brandon Williams, James Garner and Amad all hoping to make an impact in this United squad.
There really is no shortage of players for the current Ajax manager to cast his eye over, and that will be top of his agenda.
But once determining who he wants to keep or sell, actually carrying out those plans can be easier said than done. Convincing a want-away star to change his mind, or finding a new club for an asset deemed redundant can be a real challenge.
Assessing the squad
Once ten Hag has decided who he wants to keep, the plan will quickly turn to his recruitment plans, with Rangnick claiming in midweek that the current United squad may need up to 10 new signings.
The likes of Antony and Jurrien Timber have been linked from Ajax, but ten Hag will be scouring the world looking for potential additions to his squad.
Midfield seems to be the area that will need the most immediate attention, with the Red Devils light on options and already prepared for Matic’s departure.
Shifting the culture
That needs to stop if United are to compete at the Premier League’s summit once again. Ten Hag must find a way of making this group of individuals function as a cohesive unit.
There’s trepidation and frustration in abundance throughout this group, but the new United boss has to replace that with belief and courage. It won’t be an easy task in the six weeks between taking over and the new season starting.
Making an immediate impact
As mentioned above, United’s current squad contains plenty of egos and self-serving individuals, who have failed to take to managers in the past.
Even as far back as Moyes, this was a problem which impacted his reign, while Van Gaal, and Mourinho were not popular with the squad, and Rangnick has been unable to inspire this group.
Making a good first impression could be key for ten Hag and he’ll need to get the players onside, while also shifting the status quo and doling out some harsh truths.
Implementing his tactics
While deciding who’s coming and going from Old Trafford, ten Hag will also have to find a way of delivering his tactical instructions to the first-team squad.
The team haven’t taken to Rangnick’s tactics, while Solskjaer’s plans seemed less defined. But ten Hag has strict principles for how he wants his team to play, and the Dutchman will require lots of time on the training ground to get those ideas across.
The 2022/23 season starts a week early, which already reduces ten Hag’s time on the training pitch, while a summer tour in Australia and Asia will no doubt involve an abundance of commercial activities.
United need to start the new season with a clear strategy and have all players signing from the same hymn sheet, if there’s any hope of competing for silverware next season.