Erik Ten Hag has a huge job ahead of himself at Manchester United, as he aims to become the manager that revives one of Europe’s biggest sleeping giants. He will be looking to complete a successful rebuild of the squad, as well as implement the foundations of a dominant style of play to lead to a serious challenge for the Premier League and Champions League in the long run, something the likes of Louis Van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have failed to do in the past.
However, this is something he will not be able to complete over night or within a couple of months, as a lot of a patience will be required by the Old Trafford faithful, who are not happy with how the club is continuing to head into the wrong direction under the Glazers. Additionally, the dominance of Liverpool and Manchester City within the Premier League, alongside both rival teams being clearly recognised as two out of the five favourite sides to win the Champions League season after season over the last five years, has not helped the United supporters feel any better about their situation.
On the other hand, the Manchester United fanbase must understand that it takes time for greatness to be achieved and it cannot be done by buying big name players or buying their way to success. As currently seen at Manchester City, who have constantly been winning the Premier League but have not touched glory within the Champions League competition. Then there is Liverpool, who had to go through a couple of important years in the rebuilding phase under Jurgen Klopp, before they could go onto becoming one of the best teams in Europe and the main favourites in the domestic cups.
Ten Hag has already confirmed in his first press conference at the club that the squad will return to training ahead of pre-season on 27th June 2022. Although this gives him enough time to review the performances of the team as individuals and as a collective from the 2021/22 campaign, he starts his new job within English football with a shortened squad, with the likes of Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Lee Grant, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba all leaving the club as free agents.
On top of that, there is no guarantee that the remaining set of players in the squad will be able to live up to the expectations of the former Ajax and Utrecht manager, someone who is commonly known for setting intense and highly demanding training sessions. These types of drills on the training ground will be aimed to focus on improving the player’s technical ability, their positional awareness and the crucial role each player will be playing through each specific pattern of play.
This will be the key factor to whether United hit the ground running at the start of the new season or will the side show great difficulties and inconsistencies throughout the upcoming campaign. The Red Devils have shown the issues they had with playing out from the back, controlling and dominating the middle of the pitch, and attempting to press high up the pitch against the opposition, resulting in a lack of progress from the side in the second half of the season under interim coach Rangnick.
At the time of Manchester United’s managerial announcement of Ten Hag, John Murtough, the football director of the club, stressed that the fans “must show patience” with the new manager “as he sets about the challenge of building a successful team”. This was revealed by United on the club’s official website, as Murtough completed a meeting with the club’s Fans Forum, which has been built to develop a better understanding of the issues affecting the football supporters of the club as well as to maintain a constructive dialogue between the club and the fans.
Overall, without the financial backing by the board and the owners, the current set of players in the squad not adapting and following the principles of the manager and the lack of patience from the Old Trafford faithful, Ten Hag will be unable to achieve a successful project at Manchester United. And if he isn’t able to do so, someone who comes across as one of the most exciting and tactically clued on coaches within the modern era of football, then the question will remain of how long the downfall can continue of one of the biggest football clubs in England and the whole of Europe.