How Erik ten Hag has transformed Manchester United 

Erik ten Hag has ended Manchester United’s six year trophy drought with a Carabao Cup victory. Just how has Ten Hag transformed the Red Devils in half a year?
Erik ten Hag has transformed the fortunes of Manchester United
Erik ten Hag has transformed the fortunes of Manchester United

(Football news) While Erik ten Hag came in with a fantastic reputation from his time at Ajax, few would have predicted that Manchester United would be competing on all fronts in the 2022/23 season. The club were arguably at the lowest when the last season ended, playing uninspiring football under Ralf Rangnick while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had failed miserably in getting any trophies despite being backed in transfers and all the talk of “progress” and “process”. Fast forward to February 2023 and the Red Devils have already won one trophy and could potentially win three more.

Trophies were a norm under Sir Alex Ferguson which helped Manchester United establish themselves at the summit of European football. However, since the legendary manager retired, the club has fallen off the pedestal in a big way with transfer blunders, poor management choices and a lack of strategy letting Manchester United down.

Under Erik ten Hag, the culture of the club appears to have transformed significantly. It’s hard to believe that the core of this team is the same squad of players that had downed tools under Rangnick and Solskjaer because Ten Hag has instilled a winning mentality and brought about discipline at the club, a factor that had been absent in recent years.

His handling of Cristiano Ronaldo’s situation and his subsequent departure left no doubt in the squad’s mind about who is in-charge at the club, something that is reminiscent of Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson. From Manchester United’s worst ever Premier League campaign to being third in the competition, likely to qualify for the Champions League, winners of the Carabao Cup, fifth round of the FA Cup and Round of 16 of the Europa League, it’s fair to say that fans could not have asked for a better turnaround.

Ten Hag has never been afraid of dropping big name players with captain Harry Maguire reduced to a part role after poor performances as well as dropping top scorer Marcus Rashford for oversleeping and missing a team meeting on a matchday. His signings Casemiro, Antony, Lisandro Martinez and Christian Eriksen have done brilliantly in providing not only a strong starting lineup but also adding some depth to the squad. The Dutchman’s meticulous attention to detail, right from the length of the grass to the size of the cones, the kit worn by the players during their wins and losses shows that Manchester United for once have made the right managerial appointment.

While rivals fans will dismiss the Carabao Cup as a ‘minor’ trophy, the reality is that Manchester United had to start somewhere and this was the first trophy that can be won in the season. In 1990, Manchester United won the FA Cup under Sir Alex Ferguson and the victory was instrumental in bringing about a new era of dominance for the Red Devils, one that lasted for decades.

In 2006, Manchester United’s EFL Cup victory over Wigan led to the club winning three consecutive Premier League titles as well as a Champions League in 2008. While it’s wise to not get too ahead and think about European glory just yet, it looks like a viable long term ambition as things stand.

That’s not to say that there aren’t glaring issues in the squad and style of play. The club need a reliable centre forward to reduce their dependence on Marcus Rashford. Signing a 20 goal + striker will be essential in the summer transfer window, a player like Harry Kane or Victor Osimhen could fit in perfectly in the team and could be realistic targets if the club qualifies for the Champions League.

Ten Hag has brought about a clear structure at the club, improved underperforming players and has elevated the standards. His honest and no nonsense approach has been a breath of fresh air and it will be interesting to see how Manchester United build on their Carabao Cup success for the remainder of the season.

Also read: Pep Guardiola aims dig at Manchester United after Carabao Cup win


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