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Three Things Erik ten Hag Needs to Do to Revitalise Manchester United

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It’s no secret that Manchester United are having a torrid season on the field. Currently sitting in seventh place, level on points with Newcastle United with a vastly inferior goal difference, 12 defeats in 32 games have seen the scrutiny on beleaguered coach Erik ten Hag sharply increase after what was a largely successful first season.

The problems for the Dutchman are extensive, and the jury is out amongst Manchester United fans whether he is the one to solve them. Let’s explore three pressing issues for the Red Devils coach to address.

The Three Issues That Erik ten Hag Must Address at Manchester United


Stop Shots on Their Goal

Poor old André Onana. The Cameroonian goalkeeper’s form has improved drastically since the turn of the year, but he has had plenty of in-game practice. Indeed, Erik ten Hag’s men have conceded an extraordinary 574 shots on their goal in 32 Premier League games, an average of 17.93 a game, more than any other team in Europe’s big five leagues ( Premier League, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A).

This can be explained by a porous midfield, with 32-year-old Casemiro enduring a sharp decline in his second season at Old Trafford and youngster Kobbie Mainoo unable to cover the ground by himself. In Christian Eriksen and Scott McTominay, Manchester United have two replacements that either lack mobility or the positional sense to complement one (or both) of the usual starting midfield.

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Furthermore, persistent and repeated injuries to Ten Hag’s back four have severely limited the continuity of the defence, with the former Ajax manager forced into using a staggering 31 different rearguard combinations this season.

Get Rid of Deadwood

Too many Manchester United players clearly have no future at the club beyond this season, with the likes of Anthony Martial already preparing to depart upon the expiration of his contract this summer. Player recruitment at the club has been appalling since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013, but United have also been dreadful at player sales.

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This summer requires a clearout of players that either aren’t good enough for a squad aspiring to challenge for titles ( McTominay, Eriksen) or are too old and injury-prone (Casemiro, Varane). With a new footballing structure in place at the club since the arrival of Sir Jim Ratcliffe and the appointment of experienced operators in vital roles such as Omar Berrada, Jason Wilcox, and (eventually) Dan Ashworth, the club should find itself in a much better position to move on players that don’t fit into Ten Hag’s plans.

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Danish striker Rasmus Hojlund has enjoyed a decent first season at Old Trafford following his £72m arrival from Serie A outfit Atalanta last summer, scoring 13 times in 35 games in a largely dysfunctional side that fails to provide him with adequate service.

With Anthony Martial injured and largely unreliable whether he plays or not, and Marcus Rashford preferring to play on the left, Ten Hag requires an understudy and/or competition for the Dane and a formula to get the ball to him more often.


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