It’s the start of a new era at Manchester United this season as Erik Ten Hag takes over from Ralf Rangnick as the head coach. The Dutchman has garnered plenty of praise following his domestic and European success at Ajax but will need to perform a herculean task to revive Manchester United to its former glories in their current state.
2021/22 season: 6th position| 8th most goals scored | 8th most goals conceded
The 2021/22 season was nothing but a car crash for Manchester United. After making big-money moves for Jadon Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Raphael Varane, United upset the team chemistry, leading to the sacking of Ole Gunner Solskjaer in November. His replacement Ralf Rangnick proved to be an even worse appointment, with United going nowhere under the Austrian and losing five of their last eight games in the league to finish in sixth place.
1. Lisandro Martinez – £52 million (Ajax)
2. Christian Eriksen – Free transfer (Brentford)
3. Tyrell Malacia – £13.5 million (Feyenoord)
1. Andreas Pereira – £8 million (Fulham)
2. Paul Pogba – Free Transfer (Juventus)
3. Nemanja Matic – Free Transfer (AS Roma)
4. Jessie Lingard – Free Transfer (Nottingham Forrest)
It’s been a summer of frustration at Old Trafford, with Manchester United failing to make significant headway in the transfer market. Although United beat Tottenham Hotspur to the signing of free agent Christian Eriksen and added left-footed defenders Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia from the Eredivisie, the club have failed in their pursuit of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong.
On a positive note, the Red Devils have cleared up a large chunk of their wage bill with Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Edinson Cavani, Jessie Lingard, and Juan Mata heading towards the exit door, albeit all at the expiration of their contracts.
Staring XI – BOLD
Players in red are likely to leave this summer
David de Gea – Last season’s improvement was a mirage, the biggest liability in the squad
Aaron Wan-Bissaka – Unfairly scapegoated, not great on the ball but can defend, dribble, and cross
Diogo Dalot – Winger converted to full-back tells you what you can expect
Harry Maguire – The most disrespected player in the league
Raphael Varane – Not a ball-playing CB but can has everything else
Victor Lindelof – Another United CB that looks better when he goes out of the team
Lisandro Martinez – Silky on the ball, aggressive defender, too short to be a PL CB
Luke Shaw – Natural defender, whipped cross in his bag but injuries and athleticism impact reliability
Tyrell Malacia – Has all the tools to be an elite left-back in the modern game
Fred – Gives the ball away too often for a central midfielder
Scott McTominay – United’s most important player until a new midfielder is signed
Donny van de Beek – Can a reunion with ETH save his career?
Christian Eriksen – Still an elite player but where will he play in this system?
Jadon Sancho – Looked lethargic in year one at Manchester, but new manager + shift to the right-wing should see him make massive strides this year
Marcus Rashford – Just four goals in 25 league appearances last season!!
Anthony Martial – Can work as a number nine under Ten Hag, but the mentality is always a question
Bruno Fernandes – Special player entering his prime but would be best served if Ronaldo leaves
Cristiano Ronaldo – Lethal ball-striker, top-class movement, dressing room nightmare
Anthony Elanga – Excellent winger profile but needs game time to develop further
Having taken the poisoned chalice of the Manchester United job, Erik Ten Hag has his task cut out this season as he looks to restore the Red Devils’ place amongst the European elite. Although the signs during pre-season were promising, it’s a long road ahead for this current Manchester United squad. Most players have never played under a positional play coach like Ten Hag and will require a hefty adjustment period as the Dutchman looks to implement his footballing philosophy.
The elephant in the room for United at the moment is Cristiano Ronaldo. The Red Devils are short in numbers up top, but the Portuguese superstar doesn’t fit what Ten Hag is trying to do at Old Trafford and has also been desperately engineering a move away from Manchester all summer long. If Ronaldo stays, Ten Hag will have to try and fit him into the XI, compromising the effectiveness of Bruno Fernandes, Martial, Rashford and Sancho whilst also dealing with his tantrums and power in the dressing room.
However, if the five-time Ballon D’Or winner does depart for greener pastures before deadline day, it leaves United with just one senior striker at their disposal ahead of a brutally long season sandwiched between a World Cup. Either way, it’s a lose-lose situation.
In addition to the problem up front, the midfield situation also needs solving. United only have two senior midfielders capable of playing in the double pivot of a 4-2-3-1, and if the Red Devils spend one more summer without addressing a positional need, it could be another long season ahead for the Manchester United faithful.
Predicted finish: 6th
[Featured Image Credit: Manchester United]