Erik Ten Hag enters his first season at Manchester United, where he has the biggest task of his managerial career of reviving one of Europe’s biggest sleeping giants. However, patience will be required as the manager will need time to implement his style of play and set the foundations into place, which could take at least half a season, depending on how much he is backed by the board.
There is no doubt that the side will have a slow start to the season, as learning to effectively play out from the back, whilst under pressure and in tight spaces, takes a lot of time and patience, which could potentially be around six to nine months. On top of that, the board are yet to bring in the other players that Ten Hag desires for his style of play, resulting in possible setbacks to his goals.
The Red Devils finished sixth in the league last season, whilst failing to show hunger and ambition in the Champions League as well as the domestic cup competitions. There was a lack of team effort on the defensive side of the game, and the side looked quite lethargic and predictable on the other end, allowing the opposition to defend with ease and break through the midfield with no actual pressure.
Nevertheless, a new era has arrived under Ten Hag and the Old Trafford faithful are excited for it.
It’s time to dig deep into the 2022/23 season that is ahead for Manchester United….
The new addition – linked players
The Red Devils this time around have solely targeted the players the manager wants, something that has not happened over the last five to ten years, whether it was under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or Jose Mourinho. In recent months, the board have carried out the process of clearing and repairing the scouting and negotiation department, an assignment that needed completing with great urgency.
United have so far brought Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez. Ten Hag already understands what to expect from these three players, as he has managed one of the players at Ajax for the last three years, whilst witnessing the breakthrough of another player at a rival club in Feyenoord. And Eriksen’s playmaking ability is commonly known to every coach across Europe.
With under a month remaining until the transfer window comes to an end, the Old Trafford faithful will be hoping that the board can deliver another two signings and the potential news of Cristiano Ronaldo staying at the club, the positive type of information that can lead to a productive season.
The side have been linked with the likes of Frenkie de Jong, Benjamin Sesko and Ruben Neves, players that could possibly improve the quality of the starting line-up and the squad depth. When noting that the midfield department is desperately lacking a quality holding midfielder and a centre-forward is required depending on the departure of Ronaldo or not, an arrival in both areas would result in the transfer window to be regarded as a successful summer given the limited budget.
Focusing further on the current signings, Malacia provides the much-needed competition to Luke Shaw, who has only had two-three consistent seasons despite being one of the side’s longest serving players. It would not be a surprise to see the Dutchman becoming a regular starter by the end of the season, as he has shown positive signs on both sides of the pitch throughout the pre-season tour.
The arrival of both Martinez and Eriksen improves the team massively in terms of the tactical and technical side of the game, two individuals who can help the team to dominate possession and remain a few steps ahead of the opposition. Both players also have the versatility to cover a few areas when needed by the manager, which will be more than helpful given the lack of squad depth.
Jadon Sancho is anticipated to be the side’s most important player going into the season, as he has the incredible ability to assist his team and create chances for the attackers, regardless of whether it is on the counterattack or when playing against a defensive low block. With the side expected to dominate possession and play high up the pitch, he will have his team-mates close-by to him to play one touch football and specific combinations, to force the opposition out of their defensive shape.
Also, the full-backs in Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw will be expected to play a key role in Ten Hag’s system, as he expects them to drop into central area of midfield to provide themselves as a passing option and to create an overload against the opponent. These three players are the ones to shine.
Who should be sold?
Brandon Williams and Eric Bailly are reportedly the next two players on the list that are expected to leave the club, on a temporary basis. Nevertheless, individuals such as Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe and Phil Jones should be considered as the main players that need to be offloaded, who don’t fit into Ten Hag’s tactical demands or are quite low in the pecking order for their positions.
Manchester United’s strongest XI
With the current members in the squad, here is Manchester United’s strongest XI for the season;
David de Gea; Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw; Fred, Christian Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes; Jadon Sancho, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford. (4-1-2-3)
Premier League prediction
There is no doubt that it will take time for the players to adapt to the manager’s philosophies and the manager to adapt to the intensity and physicality of the Premier League. By the time the manager and squad truly get going, the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool will have confidently taken the top three positions in the league. Furthermore, the side’s lack of squad quality and hinderance of the Europa League competition, will leave them to finish outside the top four spots. The focus will be more on the side’s performances in the league rather than the end position.
Premier League – 6th place
Europa League prediction
Manchester United have not won a trophy in quite some time now, with the last time being the Europa League trophy during the Jose Mourinho era in the 2016/17 campaign. The side will enter the European competition as the favourites, given the reputation of the club and the big-name players that will take part, and it would not be a huge surprise to see the team take the trophy more seriously as they progress through the season and fall quite behind their rivals in the league table. There should not be any difficulties for the team to confidently get through the group stages and reach the Europa League finals, where their individual brilliance would help them to be successful.
Europa League – winners
Domestic cup predictions
With the fixtures coming through thick and fast, United will fall short in the advanced matches of the domestic cups, especially when they prioritise the Premier League and the Europa League in general.
FA Cup – Quarter-Finals. EFL Cup – Quarter-Finals.