We simulated Erik ten Hag as Man United manager next season as appointment confirmed

Manchester United have appointed Erik ten Hag as the club’s new permanent manager, with the Dutchman set to take over at the start of next season.

Manchester Evening News understands that United have paid Ajax £1.7 million in compensation for Ten Hag, whose contract was due to expire at the end of next season. the Manchester Evening News previously reported that Ten Hag was United’s preferred managerial candidate to take over from Ralf Rangnick at the end of the season.

Ten Hag has signed a three-year contract at United with the option of an additional year, with the 52-year-old set to become the second Dutch manager in the club’s history, following Louis van Gaal’s stint as manager between 2014 and 2016. On joining United, Ten Hag said: “It is a great honor to be appointed manager of Manchester United and I am hugely excited by the challenge ahead.

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“I know the history of this great club and the passion of the fans, and I am absolutely determined to develop a team capable of delivering the success they deserve.

“It will be difficult to leave Ajax after these incredible years, and I can assure our fans of my complete commitment and focus on bringing this season to a successful conclusion before I move to Manchester United.”

So, if Ten Hag was to make the move to United in the summer, what sort of impact could he have? We simulated the 2022/23 season with Ten Hag as United manager, and this is what happened.

We simulated Erik ten Hag as Man United manager in 2022

To set up this simulation, we used the Football Manager 2022 editor to arrange for Ten Hag to join United at the start of the 2022 summer transfer window, using FM22 to run the simulation. We also have the 52-year-old full control over transfers to try and see what sort of players he could bring to the club.

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After releasing Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Cavani, Juan Mata, Tahith Chong and Lee Grant at the beginning of the season, with these players all out of contract in the summer of 2022, the Dutch manager also sold Anthony Martial, Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones and Brandon Williams in his first transfer window.

Along with his outgoings, Ten Hag’s side spent over £170million in his first season in United, with the manager bringing in a host of players from Italy and a few of his fellow countrymen. Napoli’s Victor Osimhen joined for the biggest amount, with the striker signing for £84 million.

Ten Hag spent over £170 million in his first transfer window at the club

Former Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt was signed by his former boss from Juventus for £67 million as a replacement for Harry Maguire, whilst Josip Ilicic arrived for just under £6 million, adding some experience to the side. After a strong loan spell at Brentford, Ten Hag signed fellow countryman Christian Eriksen on a free transfer as he added more experience along with Ilicic. Malcolm also joined from Zenit, signing for £19.25m.

Ten Hag opted to play a 4-2-3-1 formation in his first season in charge. The two wide positions were occupied by both Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford, with both wingers improving under the new manager. Sancho grabbed 15 goals and 12 assists in all competitions, whilst Rashford grabbed 12 goals and two assists, keeping Malcolm and Elanga out of the squad, the latter struggling for game time.

After the arrival of De Ligt, Maguire was dropped to the bench, with the Englishman starting just 12 games all season. The Dutch defender formed a strong partnership with Raphael Varane, with the duo both registering an average rating higher than 7.2 per game.

Cristiano Ronaldo kept his place up-front, whilst Bruno Fernandes was deployed in a deeper role next to Scott McTominay. Malcolm and Eriksen were both used from the bench frequently but weren’t ever really first-team regulars.

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Ronaldo finished the campaign as United’s top scorer, scoring one more than Osimhen and two more than Fernandes. The 37-year-old only started 28 games compared to Osimhen’s 46, with 20 of Ronaldo’s appearances coming from the bench, but still out-scored the new signing.

United's top scorers from the 22/23 season simulation
United’s top scorers from the 22/23 season simulation

Under Ten Hag, United were sensational in attack, scoring 81 goals in 38 Premier League games, 11 goals more than the next-best team Liverpool. The addition of Osimhen, along with the goals added from Sancho and Rashford that weren’t there in previous seasons, molded United into the league’s most dangerous attacking outfit.

But defensively, United still had issues, with Ten Hag’s side having only the seventh-best defense in the league, conceding 41 in 38 games, 13 more than Liverpool. However, compared to previous campaigns, United’s defensive record improved slightly under the Dutch coach, with the Reds having conceded 40 already this season, whilst they conceded 44 last season under Solskjaer.

Man United ended the Premier League campaign as the leagues top scorers
Man United ended the Premier League campaign as the leagues top scorers

At the end of the 2022/23 season, Football Manager 2022 put together an overall best Man United XI based on performances, statistics and other metrics. This is what United’s best XI looked like at the end of the 2022/23 season as predicted by Football Manager 2022:

Full United best XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Dalot, Varane, de Ligt, Shaw; Fernandes, McTominay; Sancho, Ilicic, Rashford; Ronaldo.

Man United's best XI from the 22/23 season with ten Hag
Man United’s best XI from the 22/23 season with ten Hag

Summer signings De Ligt and Ilicic made it into the best eleven, but Osimhen did not, despite scoring 21 goals in all competitions for United.

Man United’s results under ten Hag in 2022

During Ten Hag’s first season in charge, United won the Carabao Cup on penalties against Everton in late February, ending the club’s five-year wait for a major trophy. Osimhen scored in the 86th minute to level the score after Dele Alli found an earlier opener, and David De Gea made two saves in the shootout to help United win their first trophy of the season.

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Man United's results in the cup competitions
Man United’s results in the cup competitions

But United were knocked out of the FA Cup in the fifth round of the competition, with second-half goals from Sadio Mane and Trent Alexander-Arnold canceling out Marcus Rashford’s opener. United also reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2010/11, but a 2-0 defeat in the second leg saw United lose 4-2 on aggregate to the eventual winners Real Madrid.

The Carabao Cup wasn’t United’s only trophy in this season simulation. Ten Hag exceeded expectations as he led United to Premier League glory in his first season in charge.

Manchester United won the Premier League with ten Hag as manager
Manchester United won the Premier League with ten Hag as manager

A three-way title battle went down to the last day, and United prevailed, pipping fierce rivals Man City to the title by one point, finishing the campaign on 84 points in total. Liverpool finished in third just three points behind, with Klopp’s side top of the league until they drew four of their last five games, allowing United to move into first place.

At the end of the season, the Dutch manager was awarded the Premier League manager of the year award to cap off a great season. Six United players made the Premier League Team of the Year, with new signing De Ligt featuring.

Overall, this Football Manager 2022 simulation suggests that following United’s appointment of Ten Hag, his exciting approach could make United an entertaining, title-winning side. Despite not being strong defensively, Ten Hag’s side scored for fun, and their ability to outscore opponents is what pushed them to two trophies in his first season.

Are you happy that Ten Hag will join Man United next season? Let us know in the comments below.

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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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