If reports are to be believed, Erik ten Hag’s appointment as the new permanent Manchester United manager is imminent. The Dutchman, who hails from Haaksbergen, has been linked with the post for a while, but now it appears as though the Old Trafford outfit have got their man. And, it should be a case of a new manager, new beginnings.
If one thing’s for sure, rebuilding what once was the premier club, not only in the UK and Europe but also in the world, has been a process needed for a while. After Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill departed in 2013, United have been on a downward spiral, allowing the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea to overtake them on the pitch. It couldn’t be more evident either, with United humiliated at Anfield 4-0 last time out.
Ten Hag, 52, is set to arrive at Old Trafford this summer, with current interim manager Ralf Rangnick heading upstairs to take on a consultancy role. Rangnick, who has been heavily involved in the process to find the right manager to take the club forward, is also going to be tasked with rebuilding a faltering infrastructure while having a hand in recruitment. The 63-year-old German has already suggested that up to ten new players could arrive this summer, with significant work needed to get United back on track.
It's likely that prior to the new manager’s arrival, the futures of several players at the club will have been decided. Nemanja Matic, for example, has already confirmed he will depart at the end of the season, a year before his contract is due to end. There are also suggestions that the likes of Juan Mata, Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard, and even Paul Pogba could head for the Old Trafford exit.
One of the critical tasks in terms of recruiting new players ahead of the 2022/23 campaign will be first to ensure they have the quality and the character to represent a club of the size and with the reputation of Manchester United. As pointed out multiple times by the likes of Roy Keane and Gary Neville, former players and club icons, too many of the current playing squad “aren’t United players.” They lack the quality, and they crumble when things go against them.
Rangnick, alongside others, will also need to find the personnel that will fit with ten Hag’s style of play too. He’s renowned for playing a 4-2-3-1 system, but what’s been evident is United lack a proper defensive midfielder, for example. These are all problems that will need addressing between now and the new season kicking off.
For those players who don’t leave Old Trafford this summer, it too will be a case of new beginnings. They’re likely to have the opportunity to prove their worth with a clean slate presented to them by the new incumbent. In addition, it could prove to be a turning point for those who have struggled for form this season, such as current captain Harry Maguire, who is far better than recent performances have shown.