Gary Neville has perfectly summed up Manchester United managerial problem ahead of Erik ten Hag decision – George Smith



“People have tried very hard to get it successful again – but they have failed. It won’t just be as easy as appointing a talented, young manager or talented manager at all.

“There needs to be something quite significant that shifts here, so that everyone realizes it is a new project and it is a new beginning.”

Those were the 56 words that escaped former club captain Gary Neville’s mouth as he reflected on another dismal Manchester United showing at Old Trafford against Leicester City on Saturday evening. Stood on the gantry, Neville, speaking to Sky Sports presenter Kelly Cates, could not help but grab your attention. It was one of those moments where you stopped what you were doing and listened.

READ MORE: Manchester United dressing room split over possible Erik ten Hag appointment

Neville, a figure who is not afraid to speak ill of the club he has idolized for most of his life, was speaking perfect sense and only expressing the thoughts of every United supporter. It was an interesting nine minutes of analysis and Neville used his air time to the maximum.

It is why his admission now stands up even greater following the news that there is understood to be a split inside the United dressing room over the prospect of Erik ten Hag becoming the club’s next permanent manager. As revealed by the Manchester Evening Newssome players within the squad are excited by the prospect of working with the Dutchman, whereas others believe appointing him to pick up the baton from Ralf Rangnick would be ‘underwhelming’.

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At this point, it raises questions about what United’s players actually want. Well, as reported back in February, it is understood that Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino is the answer to that particular question.

The Argentine is understood to be a popular choice amongst the players and his past experience of the Premier League is believed to be a driving factor in their thinking. Furthermore, he also remains in contact with left-back Luke Shaw, with whom he worked with during his time at Southampton.

But whilst United remain open to the idea of ​​appointing Pochettino, Ten Hag is their preferred choice – and the thinking of the players should not sway the thoughts of the decision-makers at the club. For too long, United have been driven by player-power and that need of a cultural reset, which Neville eluded to several times in the aftermath of Saturday’s match, has never been needed as much. This season has been disastrous for United in every way of the imagination and a cultural reset is what is needed to avoid a repeat of it happening again.

It is quite easy to point the blame at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for his failings and Rangnick for failing to make improvements, but United were the exact same under Jose Mourinho, even if he did guide the club to two trophies in 2016/17. As Roy Keane famously said in December 2018, the players ‘threw Mourinho under the bus’.

The players are the common denominator. It will continue to happen unless those with the real power at the club make a stand.

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It is why they should, now more than ever, stick to their guns and do all they can to appoint Ten Hag, not out of spite just to anger those in the dressing room, but to lay down the law and show who is in charge at Old Trafford. And that ties in with Neville calling for a cultural reset from the very top of the chain.

Big changes are going to come over the coming months, both in the dugout and within the squad. The time has come for a rebuild to take center stage and those who don’t want to be part of it should be shown the door.

In Ten Hag, United would, if history repeats itself, be sourcing a manager who knows all about culture and following a strict philosophy. If anything, he is tailor-made for the changes that need to take place this summer.

United need to regain control from the top and not be pandering to the players’ demands on executive decisions, especially when, for many of them, they have not got any medals or trophies to show. Yes, there could be pitfalls in turning to Ten Hag. A lack of experience in dealing with big egos being just one of them.

But what manager does not have a gray area? You would do well to find one.

In Ten Hag, however, he screams as being something different from what United have trialled in the past. While he is a big-name, he has not yet enjoyed the success that the likes of Louis van Gaal or Mourinho had prior to their arrivals. He could hold the key to introducing the cultural reset United need, regardless of whether the players like it or not.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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