Manchester United must be true to their word after key Erik ten Hag interview question – Tyrone Marshall



A year ago, the idea of ​​a manager having to sell Manchester United a “long-term vision” to return the club to the standards they expect would have seemed implausible. United were on their way to second in the Premier League and a European final, but that season behind closed doors was entirely forgettable and it turned out to be a mirage for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

This year a campaign that began with talk of a title challenge has turned into United’s worst season in decades and a rebuilding job that would make Bob the Builder look for a new career. There can be no sugarcoating this dreadful season and the scale of the task facing Erik ten Hag, confirmed as the fifth permanent manager post-Sir Alex Ferguson on Thursday is monumental.

Ten Hag is the populist choice but he’s come up on the rails, given Mauricio Pochettino looked like the strong favorite when Solskjaer was sacked in November. The Argentine’s tribulations in Paris have possibly counted against him but Ten Hag’s vision also impressed football director John Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher.

READ MORE: Why United chose Ten Hag as their next manager

His commitment to playing exciting and attacking football around a youthful core isn’t in doubt to anyone who has watched his Ajax teams, but the job at United is a sizeable one and it is how he will approach it that so impressed Murtough and Fletcher.

“During the past four years at Ajax, Erik has proven himself to be one of the most exciting and successful coaches in Europe, renowned for his team’s attractiveness, attacking football and commitment to youth,” said Murtough.

“In our conversations with Erik leading up to this appointment, we were deeply impressed with his long-term vision for returning Manchester United to the level we want to be competing at, and his drive and determination to achieve that.” The keywords in Murtough’s statement are “long-term” and United must now be good to their word on that front.

The appointment of Ten Hag is a key one for this summer and a squad that is going to take some considerable reshaping. Around half-a-dozen players are certain to leave and more could follow, while interim manager Ralf Rangnick said as many as 10 new players could arrive after the latest humbling at the hands of Liverpool on Tuesday.

But Ten Hag will have been watching United closely in recent weeks and he will know it will take a lot more than one transfer window to, as Murtough said, return the club to the level they want to be at.

This has to be about patience. United were impressed with Ten Hag’s vision but he needs time to achieve that. He wants a team that is aggressive out of possession but Rangnick has proven this season that this is a squad ill-equipped to play that way.

It’s felt like the interim manager has begun to cut loose in his media briefings, perhaps exasperated at what he is seeing. On Tuesday he expressed the view that United were “six years” behind Liverpool, pointing out Jurgen Klopp finished eighth in his first season but, piece-by-piece, the squad was built to fit his image of him.

Will Ten Hag get the same patience? There was a question in Rangnick’s post-match press conference on Tuesday that highlighted most people who have followed this club closely don’t believe so.

His initial contract runs until the end of the 2024/25 season but it would be a surprise if he has won the title by then, given the task facing United and the headstart Manchester City and Liverpool have.

This summer will be about starting the process for United, not finishing it. Given how bad this season has been it’s not inconceivable they will end up fifth or sixth again next season. Would Ten Hag survive that?

The jury is out on that, for now, but if United are to be true to their word he would have to. As Gary Neville said on Tuesday night, this club and these players are “broken.” It will take more than one transfer window to piece it back together.

Ten Hag is an exciting appointment, but it’s his long-term vision that has earned him the job and now he must get the patience and perseverance to carry that through.

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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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