What the Manchester United dressing room has made of Erik ten Hag’s appointment

Manchester United players are encouraged by the coaching credentials of Erik ten Hag after he was confirmed as the club’s next permanent manager.

But there is some concern around the dressing room as to whether he has the force of personality to turn United’s fortunes around, with morale at rock bottom after a disastrous season.

Ten Hag was appointed the club’s next permanent manager last week and he will begin work in June after signing a three-year deal, but the task facing the 52-year-old is a sizeable one.

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He will inherit a squad that has lost all belief since the appointment of Ralf Rangnick as interim manager, with confidence drained from a group that looked set to challenge at the top of the league as recently as September.

Some players had backed the idea of ​​appointing Mauricio Pochettino as manager when the Argentine was expected to take over when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked.

While Ten Hag’s work at Ajax has impressed plenty within the United dressing room, the concern to some is that it’s felt a strong manager is needed to rebuild the squad, not just an outstanding coach, and it remains unclear if Ten Hag has the ability to do that.

He is seeking to leave Ajax with a third Eredivisie title and has won plenty of plaudits for the style of those teams, but he has never taken on a task quite as substantial as the rebuild required at Old Trafford.

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The turmoil of this season has sapped the confidence levels within the squad and the manner of the defeat to Arsenal highlighted the dwindling self-belief, with United beaten despite a much-improved performance at the Emirates Stadium.

There have been just 10 wins in 25 games since Rangnick was appointed as interim manager in December and the divide between the German and the players is growing as his temporary reign comes to an end.

It is understood that the 63-year-old, who had coached for only two of the previous 10 seasons, has struggled to win over the dressing room, along with the assistants he has brought in, Chris Armas and Ewan Sharp.

Rangnick was forced to recruit coaches unknown to almost all Premier League observers following the departures of Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna and, as time has gone on and results have failed to improve, there has been a loss of faith in his methods.

The former Schalke, Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig coach has spent eight of the previous 10 years in more executive roles and despite an encouraging start he has struggled to win over the trust of the players as time has gone on.

Sources close to the squad believe that the poor results and performances have led to the loss of morale and belief within the camp and Rangnick’s increasingly critical media appearances haven’t gone unnoticed either.

He struck a positive and upbeat tone when he was appointed as interim manager but has struggled to hide his frustration in recent weeks.

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His comments that United might need 10 new players this summer didn’t go down well with the Old Trafford hierarchy and some players have also noticed he is holding less back in public.

He compared the rebuild required at the club to “open-heart surgery” on Friday and was particularly critical after the defeat to Liverpool last week.

United have four games left under Rangnick, home fixtures over the next seven days against Chelsea and Brentford, followed by trips to Brighton and Crystal Palace, before Ten Hag takes the reins.

Rangnick has a two-year consultancy deal with United once this season ends, but there has been little clarity so far on how that is going to work and he hasn’t yet spoken to the man who will replace him in the summer.

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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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