Erik ten Hag and Manchester United are going through difficult days. United lost to Newcastle United in the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford yesterday. The contrast with last season, when United won the cup competition, is remarkable. What’s happening in the red part of Manchester? We asked Jilly Tuck, Play Sports commentator and Kick&Rush podcaster.
February 26, 2023, Wembley Stadium, London. Manchester United can lift their first title since 2017 under Erik Ten Hag. The culmination of a season in which United finished third in the league and reached the FA Cup Final.
It was believed at that time that it was the season of resurrection.
Less than a year later, things were starting to happen again at Old Trafford. Pressure is mounting on coach Ten Hag, and the British press is using the words “miserable”, “weak” and “shocking” once again.
Are the Dutchman’s days numbered at a club in decline?
The balance that Ten Hag had built melted like snow in the sun
Erik ten Hag with the Carabao Cup he won last season.
“Ten Hag’s tally that he accumulated last season has melted like snow in the sun after two months of playing football,” said Gilly Tak.
The reason was the disappointing results at the start of the season: “United lost 8 of the first 15 games this season. It has been 51 years since the season started like this. As a coach, you are always under pressure.”
But style of play also matters in Manchester: “They were outplayed in the Manchester derby and Newcastle won convincingly at Old Trafford yesterday.”
“You don’t see a group on the field that, in the event of a setback, completely collapses,” Tuck names one reason. “In that regard, I fear for his job, yes.”
The Glazers sit on their throne and are not inclined to change things quickly
But there are also factors that Ten Hag cannot control: “He’s actually unlucky with key players who are injured or hopelessly out of fitness, like Rashford and Mount.”
“But the players who came at his insistence, like Martinez and Onana, are performing below par. Naturally, he is blamed,” Tak is matter-of-fact.
Andre Onana is comforted by his teammate Sergio Reguilón after making a huge mistake.
Additional sports life buoy
However, according to Tack, it has not yet been agreed that Ten Hag will leave.
The sale of part of the club’s shares to the British businessman Sir Jim Ratcliffe plays a decisive role in this: “The Glazers (owners of Manchester United, ed.) are in their position and are not inclined to change things quickly.”
“If Ratcliffe becomes a shareholder, he will be able to take control of the sporting force and choose another coach,” Tack analyzes.
“It’s true, of course, that no one is eager for this job. You have to come from a good background if you want to change this situation.”
This in turn favors Ten Hag, who knows his group of players.
Jim Ratcliffe wants 25% of Manchester United shares.
The club is in decline
The fact that things haven’t been going well for Manchester United for years is an open kick.
The commentator said, “Since Alex Ferguson left, United have not had a real team. Even great coaches like Van Gaal and Mourinho could not put the train on the right track.”
Mourinho considers finishing second with United to be his greatest achievement as a coach, which demonstrates the depth of the misery
“Mourinho considers finishing second with United to be his greatest achievement as a coach, which shows the depth of the misery.”
But mismanagement, uncertainty and wrong investments also play a role.
“The Glazers are only adding to the club’s debt mountain, the impending sale to Ratcliffe causes great uncertainty and the stadium and training complex are old,” Tuck sums up the malaise.
These are all factors that need to be at the top nowadays to compete with the top.
“Starting from scratch may be the way out United need,” Tack concludes.
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