Five Man Utd players who must prove themselves to Erik ten Hag this pre-season

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With Manchester United’s games starting next week, we’ve selected some players who will need to impress the new manager.

Manchester United jet out to Thailand on Friday for the first leg of their pre-season tour.

The Red Devils will face six warm-up games ahead of the 2022/23 campaign, starting with a clash against Liverpool next Tuesday, before matches against Melbourne Victory, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa follow in Australia.

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Those fixtures will afford Erik ten Hag the opportunity to form a first impression of his squad, with friendlies against Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano to follow the weekend before the Premier League season begins.

Given how disastrous the last campaign was for United, there’s a real need to hit the ground running this time around

The performance levels of all players dipped drastically in 2021/22, but there were some signs of optimism from the likes of Jadon Sancho, Anthony Elanga and Diogo Dalot.

This summer offers every member of the squad the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start again, especially with United’s slow start to the transfer window potentially forcing Ten Hag to reassess some of the options he has at his disposal.

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Ten Hag may look to improve many of his existing players. Credit: Getty.Ten Hag may look to improve many of his existing players. Credit: Getty.
Ten Hag may look to improve many of his existing players. Credit: Getty.

Even in his opening press conference the former Ajax boss hinted he planned to work on improving his current crop. “I am looking forward to working with these players,” he said in May.

“The season before, this squad were second in the league. We have huge potential and I think if we improve and work with them, I think we can get out more.”

But which players in particular have to impress the Dutchman? We’ve selected five who need to hit the ground running in pre-season…

David de Gea

Perhaps a surprising choice given he was one of the standout players for the Red Devils last term, but there have been concerns raised about his distribution and ability to play out from the back.

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The decision to loan Dean Henderson to Nottingham Forest hints that De Gea will be the undisputed No.1 next term, but a slow start for the Spaniard could see questions about his suitability to Ten Hag’s system raised once again.

De Gea will need to produce another impressive season. Credit: Getty.De Gea will need to produce another impressive season. Credit: Getty.
De Gea will need to produce another impressive season. Credit: Getty.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka

It was reported earlier in the window that Ten Hag wasn’t keen on the former Crystal Palace full-back and planned to move him on, yet talk of a transfer has dropped markedly in recent weeks.

Wan-Bissaka has been back at Carrington in the last few weeks and even underwent additional personal training in an effort to impress the new United manager, especially with the club consistently linked with moves for new right-backs.

But a solid pre-season, and some further offensive work, could change Ten Hag’s stance.

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Luke Shaw

Few United players had a more disappointing 2021/22 campaign than the left-back, and Tyrell Malacia’s arrival has only amplified the need for Shaw to return to his best.

Playing in Ten Hag’s attacking system should suit Shaw, who had enjoyed an encouraging few years before last term.

He’ll also need to recapture his best form if he’s to force his way back into Gareth Southgate’s plans for the World Cup.

Donny van de Beek

Ten Hag’s appointment was supposed to be a new beginning for the midfielder, but the imminent arrival of Christian Eriksen puts his place in the squad into doubt.

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Van de Beek is likely to be third in the pecking order for an attacking midfield berth, after Bruno Fernandes and Eriksen, although the Dutchman has a slight advantage given that he returned to pre-season before the duo.

Some solid displays in the warm-up matches could have a big impact on the new manager’s opinion, and Van de Beek may even be able to demonstrate he’s capable of playing in a more withdrawn role.

Van de Beek has been back at Carrington after his short spell at Everton. Credit: Getty.Van de Beek has been back at Carrington after his short spell at Everton. Credit: Getty.
Van de Beek has been back at Carrington after his short spell at Everton. Credit: Getty.

Anthony Martial

After a dismal two years at Old Trafford, Martial’s stock has never been lower at United. There needs to be a significant switch in attitude from the No.9 if he’s to play a pivotal role next season.

The forward headed on loan to Sevilla in the second half of last season, but failed to impress in La Liga and is back at the Red Devils ahead of the new campaign.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s potential departure could alter his status in this squad, but Martial has to find the form he regularly demonstrated in 2019/20 and show his commitment to the club in pre-season.

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