21 Apr 2022 | 12:47 | Football
Erik ten Hag (Getty Images)
Erik ten Hag will become Manchester United manager next season, tasked with turning around a decade of decline since legendary former manager Alex Ferguson retired.
The Red Devils have not won a title in five years and are even likely to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Here are five key tasks that await the Dutchman in the biggest role of his coaching career:
Keep or release Ronaldo?
Cristiano Ronaldo was welcomed back to Old Trafford as a hero in August with United fans dreaming of challenging Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea for the Premier League title.
Instead, United found themselves outside the top four as they entered the final weeks of the season despite the five-time Ballon d’Or winner scoring 21 goals.
Ronaldo has been identified as one of the reasons for United’s failure to keep possession, but a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool in his absence on Tuesday shows much more is wrong.
The Portuguese still has a year left to play on his contract, but at 37, it’s unlikely he will want to spend one of his remaining years at the top level outside of the Champions League.
The split could be in the interest of all parties as it would free up funds for Ten Hag to invest in young strikers better suited to the style of play he practiced at Ajax.
However, former United manager Louis van Gaal has warned his compatriot that the Red Devils are now a “commercial club” and that keeping a global superstar like Ronaldo on the books would be beneficial. for United sponsors.
Imposing an identity
Ten Hag will be United’s sixth manager in nine years since Ferguson left.
In that time, they have switched from football based on Van Gaal’s ownership, to the physical approval of Jose Mourinho, a counter-attacking style favored by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer before the godfather of pressure. German, Ralf Rangnick, was appointed provisionally. until the end of the season.
United only need to look at their fiercest opponents for a lesson in how consistency drives success.
Manchester City and Liverpool are winning the Premier League and Champions League titles thanks to years of work under Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.
“The title of everything was ‘how do we want to play?’ Under this title in every transfer window they have created the team they have at both clubs,” Rangnick said of the long-term thinking of Man City and Liverpool.
Ten Hag needed to impose his identity on United and be given the right players to do so instead of a collection of fragmentary star names.
Oversaw an overhaul
Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata are all expected to leave on free when their contracts expire at the end of the season, while Nemanja Matic has announced an imminent departure.
United could also be looking for the transfers of Phil Jones and Eric Bailly, but all seven names leaving would leave them with just 18 senior players, three of which are goalkeepers.
Rangnick suggests that it may take up to 10 new players.
A summer of much-needed change in the long run will increase Ten Hag’s ability to work actively with the club’s new CEO Richard Arnold, technical director Darren Fletcher and director of football John Murtough must be checked immediately.
Give youth a chance
Ten Hag has continued Ajax’s tradition of blood transfusion and talent enhancement from the club’s legendary academy.
Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Donny van de Beek are the stars who reached the semi-finals of the 2019 Champions League before being sold.
United’s own tradition of producing players has faded as the club repeatedly turns to try to find a way out of the difficult transfer market.
Even the likes of Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay and Dean Henderson have fallen behind in what should have been their pivotal years.
Ten Hag also has a history of working with young players from two years in the Bayern Munich reserve team, and relying on the academy could inject some much-needed desire and dynamism into the United squad.
Win the trophy
Even the most optimistic United fans can hardly expect a Premier League title in Ten Hag’s first season as he came up against Man City and Liverpool.
But five years without a title is too long for a club the size of United.
Domestic cup competitions are the easiest way to end that drought and should be targeted for Ten Hag to quickly give fans hope.