Man Utd are making huge changes ahead of Sir Jim Ratcliffe coming into the club | Football Digest
For the most part, Manchester United have had a season to forget, with Erik ten Hag struggling to build on his successful maiden campaign at Old Trafford. Express Sport explores the Dutchman’s five biggest problems in recent months that have undoubtedly contributed to United’s nightmare start.
There are no marks for guessing who public enemy No 1 is among United supporters. The Glazers are worth their fair share of blame for the club’s drastic decline over the last decade.
And they’ve negatively impacted the current season by leaving Ten Hag, his squad and over a thousand staff members in the dark about their futures.
There is no chance individuals throughout the club have been working at maximum capacity while the threat of losing their jobs has lingered over their heads.
That stems from the owners’ continued inability to communicate throughout the club and to fans. It’s an issue that many hope Sir Jim Ratcliffe will quickly address once he buys 25 per cent of United.
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Relentless injury woes
It’s more difficult to think of United players who have escaped injury issues this season than those who have been struck. That’s how ridiculous it has become.
The results haven’t been good enough. However, Ten Hag is a manager who thrives off strict routines and hasn’t been able to field his best team once this term.
The moment United’s fortunes look brighter, they are hit with the latest problem. Andre Onana is the latest player to become an injury doubt ahead of Sunday’s trip to Everton.
United aren’t the only club to be affected by injury problems this season, not by a long shot. But it’s impossible to say 20-plus different incidents haven’t greatly impacted progress.
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Ten Hag’s signings
Sir Jim and INEOS are expected to overhaul United’s football operations to form a more streamlined system. Recruitment is thought to be an area the 71-year-old is most keen to fix.
Ten Hag has held significant power over the club’s transfers worth north of £400million since his arrival last summer. His hit rate is below 50 per cent, to say the least.
Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez were huge in his first season, helping United to third in the Premier League and the Carabao Cup. But the former’s form has fallen off a cliff this term, and the latter still hasn’t fully recovered from a foot injury suffered in April.
The decision to sign Antony for £85m particularly becomes more bizarre with each lacklustre performance. This summer, the £60m capture of Mason Mount, only to give him the Donny van de Beek treatment in favour of Scott McTominay, has also understandably baffled fans.
Ten Hag’s move to ditch club icon David de Gea for £47m Andre Onana is also yet to convince. And while Rasmus Hojlund has the makings of a top-level striker, the £72m 20-year-old is yet to score in the Premier League.
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Amateur attacking return
United are 12 games into their Premier League campaign, and Marcus Rashford’s strike in a 3-1 defeat at Arsenal remains the only goal scored by one of Ten Hag’s attackers.
That is a damning statistic that must improve. All seven of the Red Devils’ league wins this term have been by a one-goal margin.
Rashford has shown little sign of replicating his career-best 30-goal 2022/23 campaign, while Hojlund’s impressive exploits have been restricted to Champions League defeats.
Ten Hag’s expensive attacking signings and the talented forwards he inherited at Old Trafford must click sooner rather than later.
You’d only be scraping the surface by solely discussing United’s takeover farce as an off-field distraction that Ten Hag has had to contend with since taking charge last summer.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s explosive exit, the club’s reported U-turn over Mason Greenwood, Antony’s personal life and managing big personalities like De Gea and Harry Maguire’s futures have added to the adversity he’s faced.
So the Jadon Sancho saga, which seemed to emerge from nowhere, wouldn’t have helped matters, especially amid the increasing scrutiny over Ten Hag’s job.
Ten Hag has stayed loyal to his principles, leaving him without a £73m forward and facing persistent questioning over what he will deem an irrelevant topic until Sancho apologises.
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