Erik ten Hag & Man Utd: Five key areas that need to be addressed this summer

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Manchester United need a positive pre-season and quick start to the new campaign after a turbulent few months.

Tuesday’s confirmation that Erik ten Hag will remain in charge of Manchester United has removed perhaps the biggest barrier for the club ahead of the new season.

That executives, players, potential new managers and Ten Hag himself didn’t know what was coming next resulted in a precarious feeling ahead of what is set to be a big summer for United.

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This might be the end of the post-2023/24 review, but also the start of a much bigger project. Now that Ten Hag’s position is secure(ish), the focus will invariably switch to what comes next.

There’s plenty of room for improvement and real challenges for Ineos to address in their first full season in charge at Old Trafford. Here are five things that must be fixed at United before the 2024/25 campaign gets under way…


Perhaps the most obvious area. Ten Hag and Ineos need to construct a squad capable of regaining a top-four finish next season. It’s already been weakened by the departures of Raphael Varane and Anthony Martial, while Tom Heaton and Jonny Evans could still follow.

As for the rest of the squad, it feels like a who’s who of potential departures. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Casemiro, Scott McTominay, Christian Eriksen, Antony, Jadon Sancho and Mason Greenwood could all be allowed to leave this summer. The latter two are particularly pertinent problems for United’s new minority owners to address.

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Meanwhile, any outgoings will need to be replaced. At least one centre-back and midfielder are seen as key additions, along with a striker and greater depth at left-back. But in truth, all departments need to be strengthened.

Ineos are also trying to implement a new transfer model that will see United be more sustainable and savvy in the market going forward. That won’t be an overnight transition, especially with key players Dan Ashworth and Omar Berrada not yet in place. Syphoning away Ten Hag’s influence over transfers will also be a big adjustment, but there is little margin for error with a squad that is in heavy need of surgery.

Tactical plans

Ten Hag’s tactics were roundly criticised this season, particularly the midfield structure. A few subtle changes had a profound effect on United’s solidity in the last few games of the season, most notably in the FA Cup final.

Jason Wilcox was instrumental in this and stressed the need for United to have greater control in games during his end-of-season review. But making minor adjustments for a few matches is entirely different to designing and implementing a tactical system that maximises the most from United’s squad against a wide spectrum of opponents.

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That’s only complicated further by the fact that United’s personnel still remains uncertain ahead of the season. Ten Hag knows that a poor start to the campaign will only increase scrutiny on his position and his rigid approach simply cannot be repeated in ‘24/25.

Injury record

The number of absentees was cited by United sources as a major reason for Ten Hag being given the chance to continue, with sympathy from officials at for the number of major injuries the Dutchman had to cope with.

In a nutshell: United need to avoid that problem next season. That will come from a holistic outlook which addresses how injuries are dealt with, the medical team’s practices, training regimes, periodisation and allowing players to fully recover from injuries before being reintegrated back into the team.

Luke Shaw referenced some of these problems in an interview last week - but there was plenty left unsaid by the former Southampton defender. Ralf Rangnick questioned why United were picking up so many injuries during his time at Old Trafford, and over two years on those concerns have not been answered.

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Ineos structure

While Ineos have placed Sir Dave Brailsford and Jean-Claude Blanc in positions of power, and appointed Wilcox and other roles such as head of youth scouting and a new chief communications officer, there’s still plenty left to sort.

The arrivals of Berrada and Ashowrth are most obvious ones, but questions remain about Benni McCarthy’s role as assistant manager, while further appointments are expected away from the pitch.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe claimed earlier this year that it's important to ‘walk to the right solution, not run to the wrong one’, but he’ll hope by the end of the upcoming season that his ideal Ineos structure is in place.

Pre-season build-up

In many ways this encompasses all of the above, but when United report back for pre-season training at the start of July they need to be fully focused on putting clear plans into place. That will be complicated by so many players at major tournaments this summer and a hectic tour that squeezes in as many commercial opportunities as possible.

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A smooth pre-season often can tee up a positive start to a new Premier League campaign and if United get their transfer business done quickly, implement a tactical philosophy and get everyone fresh and available for the big kick-off, then it gives Ten Hag a fighting chance.

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