A pitfall of being one of the world’s biggest football clubs with a roll of honor that most could only dream of, is that nobody is ever short of an opinion.
Ralf Rangnick will have become acutely aware of this in just his short time with Manchester United, that the club’s former pros and legends are littered across TV channels and have become staples of the football conversation in the UK.
British television screens and newspapers are littered with the thoughts of Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Owen Hargreaves; it is almost an endless list. Their entertaining insights provide fans with an understanding of what will be going through the minds of players in the high pressure Premier League environment.
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This is unlikely to change any time soon but nor should it. Their opinions hold weight as they have been there and done it, but with such exposure comes the added pressure for any new manager of United. Unless you have been living under a rock, you will know that Erik ten Hag has now been announced as the new manager at Old Trafford. Ten Hag is no stranger though to being in charge of a big football club with huge expectations.
In the Netherlands there is arguably no greater club than Ajax. Playing in a stadium that bars the name of a footballing magician most likely adds an extra level of pressure on your team to conjure up both results and attractive play on the pitch.
But what the 52-year-old is set to experience at Old Trafford is on another planet altogether. Speaking to Voetball International, Ruud Gullit explained the exact challenge Ten Hag should expect when he walks through the doors at United.
He said: “Is it the right choice? That has to be seen.
“They also want to play the football he plays, but it’s going to be a really terrible job. There are all these former players in the TV studios: Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes…
“There is constant pressure on the team, that is not easy. Know what to expect, it’s a huge job.”
Defeat to Liverpool at Anfield on Tuesday brought the full punditry barrage that we have become accustomed to after a poor United performance in the modern day. Jurgen Klopp’s side were only halfway through their demolition when Neville branded the team a ‘waste of space’.
Keane declared he was no longer angry — which is hard to believe — but ‘saddened’ by the demise of the club he used to captain. Scholes also added similar sentiments before outlining his desire for him to see Ten Hag backed in the job ..
The former midfielder pleaded that Ten Hag ‘should be given the time he needs’. But the Dutchman should not fall into a false sense of security.
He may be flavor of the month with the United alumni at the moment. But one slip-up away at newly-promoted Fulham, or an unconvincing draw to Aston Villa at the Theater of Dreams, will lead to itchy feet among the Class of ’92.
To be successful Ten Hag must be ready to take on that pressure, understand that it will not go away and continue with his long term vision to overturn the deadwood that has gathered at United.
Of course this will not be a quick process but if Ten Hag starts his new role with a blind belief that he has the undying support of the pundits, the same United cycle could start repeating itself. Just ask Rangnick.
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