Manchester United: Erik ten Hag must address these 5 issues
The Dutch revolution at Manchester United under new manager Erik ten Hag has officially
begun with the former Ajax boss starting pre-season training Monday at Carrington. Reports
suggest Erik ten Hag has given his United bosses a wish list of 5 players with Barcelona
midfielder Frenkie de Jong, sitting pretty at the top. There seems to be a deal there for United
as Barcelona are desperate to get their finances in order and want to offload De Jong because
he commands good value in the market and has exorbitant wages. Both of which are not a big
concern at United.
With the new season just over a month away, we take a look at the top 5 concerns which Erik
ten Hag must address to be successful at Manchester United:
- Captain oh my captain!
According to reports in the English press, including the very reliable BBC, the Red Devils dressing room was split right down the middle over the issue of captaincy. Harry Maguire doesn’t command the respect on or off the pitch that someone wearing the armband should,
and with Cristiano Ronaldo, David de Gea, and Bruno Fernandes, there are many contenders for that role.
- A luxury goalkeeper!
With a $23 million annual salary, David de Gea is the highest paid goalkeeper in the world. Fact that he is unable to hold his place in the national team is testament to the mismanagement of Manchester United directors who felt he deserved such a high wage. This has made him impossible to drop for any manager, while also making him unattainable for other clubs. Many believed De Gea does not suit Erik ten Hag’s style of play which involves playing a high line, and the Spanish keeper lacks the athleticism to sweep his box, preferring instead to stick to the goal line. However, Dean Henderson is leaving on loan, so it seems DDG will be ETH’s first choice keeper.
- Midfield McBurgers
The biggest area of concern for Manchester United has been the midfield. The first choice for the last couple of managers, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick have been Scott McTominay and Fred, the McFred midfield as it’s called. It’s a pairing which has become a bit of a joke with contrasting styles of play that create an imbalance in the middle of the pitch. As a result, United struggled to win back possession in midfield, or build attack from the backline. With Frenkie de Jong expected to join United it will be interesting to see who he gets paired with. Will United go from McFred to McFrenkie? Or will it be Fredkie ? Both sound terrible to be honest.
- Floundering fullbacks
The style of play Erik ten Hag deployed at Ajax saw him utilise width across the pitch with creative use of his fullbacks. The likes of right back Noussair Mazraoui have since then been poached by German giants Bayern Munich. Ten Hag also deployed former Manchester United player Daley Blind on the left hand side to help pass the ball out from the back. At United this has been another area of concern. Ole bought Alex Telles, but the Brazilian has struggled with life in England. Luke Shaw remains United’s best fullback, but he has a tendency to get injured. Aaron Wan Bissaka has regressed in his progression and some reports suggest United are ready to listen to offers for the former Crystal Palace right back.
- Misfiring strikers
Looking at Manchester United’s roster one would think attack would be the least of Erik ten
Hag’s concerns, strangely that’s not true. With Cristiano Ronaldo, United have a larger than life
presence in the dressing room which, last season, seemed to have cast a shadow on other
forwards, especially Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. The French forward headed off to
Sevilla in a loan move which ended in a disaster, while Rashford, a former Manchester United
player struggled for form all season. Many questioned his attitude, pointing to his off-field social
work as a possible distraction. There’s no denying the talents of both players, but to make them
click with the likes of Cristiano will be a challenge for ETH.
Written by Raghav Chopra, Senior journalist
( Special to Buzzzing.com)