Man Utd News: Ten Hag era begins: Ten outstanding issues for Manchester United’s new boss

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The ‘Ten Hag era’ at Old Trafford has begun. The former Ajax coach had been working behind the scenes for some time – his signing was announced on April 21 – but he has finally got his training gear on at Carrington to start injecting the Manchester United players with the sparkling style that led him to win three league titles, two cups and a super cup in Amsterdam.

He has work to do, though. In his first session, he was able to call on just nine first-team players (De Gea, Heaton, Phil Jones, Lindelof, Martial, Rashford, Sancho, Tuanzebe and Van de Beek) as well as youngsters Alvaro Fernandez, Alejandro Garnacho, Zidane Iqbal, Charlie Savage, Shola Shoretire and Charlie Wellens.

Here we take a look at the Manchester United manager’s unresolved issues.

1. Title drought

The most important issue … and the most difficult to solve. Manchester United became accustomed to dominating football with an ‘iron fist’ in the ‘Sir Alex Ferguson era’.

Nobody has won the Premier League more times (20). Now, however, they are in a crippling drought.

They have not won the league since 2013, and you have to go back to the Europa League won by Jose Mourinho in 2016-17 to find their last title. Five years have passed.

2. Creating a style

Manchester United, since Ferguson’s departure in 2013, have been blindly stumbling around.

They have tried everything. Seven managers have passed through the Old Trafford dugout: David Moyes, Ryan Giggs, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Michael Carrick and Ralf Rangnick.

Ten Hag will be the eighth. Mourinho had the best winning percentage (58%) and the most trophies (three).

3. Resolving the future of Cristiano Ronaldo

The big question mark for Manchester United 2022-23 is undoubtedly Cristiano Ronaldo.

At first it seemed that he had no place in Ten Hag’s plans: “He has one more year on his contract, but it is important to know what he wants and if he wants to stay. It’s up to both Erik (Ten Hag) and Cristiano to decide, “Ralf Rangnick said before he left.

And just when it seemed that Ten Hag was ready to make room for Cristiano in his team … Jorge Mendes’ offers to Chelsea and Bayern Munich to sign Cristiano have come up.

4. Creating a positive environment for De Gea

The fans gave Cristiano Ronaldo the ‘Sir Matt Busby’ award as Manchester United’s 2021-22 ‘MVP’ … but David de Gea took the ‘Player of the Year’ award voted for by the Red Devils’ own players.

The negative side of the news is that the Spanish goalkeeper once again played the role of hero on a number of occasions.

5. Sign Frenkie de Jong?

Manchester United have become obsessed with collecting forwards. Last season they had up to seven potential wingers in their squad: Cristiano Ronaldo, Rashford, Sancho, Greenwood, Martial, Lingard and Elanga.

On the other hand, they have been without a playmaker in midfield since the retirement of Michael Carrick and the departure of Paul Scholes.

Neither Varane nor Maguire can bring the ball out from the back cleanly.

Nor is there a clear positional pivot or one that stands out for his ability to play possession football. Hence the insistence on signing Frenkie de Jong.

Ten Hag already had him under his command at Ajax, who reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2018-19

6. Resurrecting Van de Beek

Another old acquaintance of Ten Hag. Like De Jong, he was pivotal in the Ajax side that won the league and cup and reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2019.

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Van de Beek stunned the world with his finishing ability from deep. Real Madrid seemed to have him tied down … but Manchester United landed the player after paying 30 million euros for his services.

Van de Beek, at Old Trafford, has been a shadow of the player who, during his time at Ajax, scored 41 goals and provided 34 assists in 175 appearances.

7. The signing of Antony

Ten Hag’s signing sparked rumors about Ajax players who could make their way from Amsterdam to Manchester.

However, there is a name that the new coach of the Red Devils is extremely keen on: Antony Matheus dos Santos.

The former Sao Paulo player arrived at Ajax in 2020 for 15.75 million euros and immediately became a starter.

He has played 78 games with Ten Hag in which he has scored 22 goals and has got 20 assists.

Negotiations, for now, are at a standstill. Ajax are asking for 80 million euros to let him leave.

8. Recapture the best version of Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes landed on his feet at Old Trafford. He arrived from Sporting CP in January 2020 for 63 million euros and was an immediate hit.

In just one year he was crowned ‘Player of the Month’ four times in the Premier League.

The numbers of his first year and a half at Old Trafford were astounding: 80 games, 40 goals and 25 assists.

Ten Hag will have to find a place for him, either as a playmaker or central midfielder, as he looks to bring back the player who first arrived.

9. Revive the wingers

Manchester United have two of the most promising wingers in Europe in their squad. Or so it seemed: Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho.

Both, however, are coming off the back of a season to forget. Sancho arrived a year ago as a star after the Red Devils paid 85 million euros to Borussia Dortmund to bring the former Manchester City man back to England.

His first season at Old Trafford, however, has been very poor as he contributed five goals and three assists in 38 appearances. He has even been left out of Southgate’s England squad.

10. Exploiting the youth academy

Ten Hag arrives in Manchester with the label of “gambling on the youngsters”.

At Ajax, little by little, he gradually developed De Ligt, De Jong, Van de Beek, Timber, Rensch, Gravenberch, Kenneth Taylor, etc.

Manchester United are confident that they will be able to exploit the talent of the young talent at Carrington.

The presence of Alvaro Fernandez, Alejandro Garnacho, Zidane Iqbal, Charlie Savage, Shola Shoretire and Charlie Wellens is a good sign.

Garnacho, for example, led the Red Devils’ U18 FA Cup winning team with a brace in May, which drew 67,492 spectators to Old Trafford.

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