So it’s been confirmed, after months of speculations the long wait for Manchester United’s new manager has finally come to a conclusion, and for United fans, it couldn’t be better as the new man to be the face of this new United rebuild is the widely respected and talented Dutch coach Erik ten Hag who seemed to be the overwhelming first choice for the Red Devils fan base.
As reported early this week, Ten Hag is set to arrive on a three-year deal with an option for a fourth year – and over that time he’ll have an enormous job on his hands. The Dutchman will be stepping into a fractured and fragmented United dressing room this summer, understanding that he will have to rejuvenate several under-performing individuals and potentially ax a few if he’s to have immediate success and reevaluate the entire structure on and off the football pitch.
The Ajax manager is regarded for his quick, incisive, and progressive, style of football, as well as his talent to evolve and develop tactically and mentally across various variations of his sides – an exciting proposition for United fans. While it’s evident that many United players won’t be able to keep up with the demands that will be asked by the Ajax perfectionist from past experiences and, in the long term that will probably be shown to be the case. Ten Hag will also be expected to perform his talent by getting the best out of some existing under-performing talent that will remain.
Here’s a look at five Manchester United players who will profit from Erik ten Hag’s arrival at the club.
5. Marcus Rashford
It seemed like a dream when Marcus Rashford started and scored twice on his Manchester United debut on a European night to break onto the scene. It seemed like the then 18-year-old had the world at his feet and was almost certain to be the next world better out of the famous United academy but the 24-year-old seems to be having a nightmare season at United. Coming off a disappointing European Championship that was cruelly spotlighted with his penalty miss in the final, this season has arguably been the worst of his career, having a late to the season after having surgery on an ongoing shoulder and foot injury only seems to hinder him and not revitalize him. Only the 5 goals in all competitions this season and a constant shadow of his former self with the Englishmen failing to nail down a starting spot under interim Ralf Rangnick.
His number is also considerably down from last season, attempting fewer dribbles (4.44), having fewer touches in the attacking third (25.64), and shot-creating actions (2.39) highlighting his ineffectiveness in the final third. But it seems the arrival of the Rangnick has at least had a positive effect on the defensive side of Rashford’s game with his successful pressures percentage going up drastically from a 21.4% to 30.8%.Embed from Getty Images
Ten Hag is going to have an uphill battle if he is to get the once viewed Golden boy of Manchester back to the frighting form he was starting to consistently show under previous manger Ole Gunnar Solskjær. Ten Hag has shown his use for inverted wingers who can cut inside with great pace and shoot from distance, something Rashford has proven he can do on numerous occasions. As we all know the determination has never been in question, well at least not onto recently, but if Ten Hag can be the bright spark of confidence that Rashford needs, he can be a vital part of the future of the club.
4. James Garner
One of the very few shining lights in United’s season has been the incredible development in loanee James Garner’s game. The 21-year-old has been on fine form in the Championship for Nottingham Forest and his performances will have certainly caught the eye of the internal people at Manchester United.
The main issue of a lack of technically skilled defensive midfield who can provide the much-needed control in the United midfield has been one of the stories of the season with the issue coming to light once again on the weekend vs Norwich City where United lined up a midfield with an unrecognizable defensive-minded midfield in Bruno Fernandes, Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba anchoring. But the expectation from United fans is that problem will be resolved with the signing of one to be at the front foot of the Red Devils’ transfer business but with the aging Nemanja Matić announcing his departure from United, that will still leave the position quite think despite Fred and Scott McTominay ability to fill into the position mediocre but this is where the arrival of Ten Hag could benefit Garner who will certainly be hoping to stake his claim to be counted on from the start of the season.
Ten Hag’s tendency to place his trust in young players could be a defining moment for the player as well as the club going forward, having a player of Garner’s talent and potential would be beneficial as it would ease the pressure of signing a ready-made superstar singing and would bode well for the player who would fancy his chances of being the player to come into that midfield and be molded by a coach of Ten Hag’s quality.
3. Jadon Sancho
It’s being an interesting first season at Old Trafford for Jadon Sancho. On one hand, he’s recovered slow start after arriving from Borussia Dortmund and has started to show glimpses and spurts of the elite talent that he is regarded as. On the other hand, for £75 million he hasn’t been near as consistent as the money paid and for a player who was bought to solve Manchester United’s right-wing issue, he has turned out to be way more effective on the left.
The tendencies of Sancho’s game have still been on full display; the IQ, ability to seize up his defender then get past them and his weight of pass have still been a really good standard but where the questions have been asked about the Englishmen has been production – only 5 goals and 3 assists. It’s not been the elite number he was producing in Germany, which would’ve understandably taken a dip considering the openness of defenses in the league but the lack of consistent goals and assists has definitely been affected by the lack of attacking cohesiveness in the United froEmbed from Getty Images
Ten Hag’s past results, specifically with wide players, has been respectable. At Ajax, he has recently deployed Dusan Tadic and Antony – two traditional creators, as his wide players with a pivot type of center-forward. The Dutchman has a reputation to give his players full attacking freedom, Sancho could see his role modified – allowing him to flow through the attacking spaces and maximize his ability to be effective in the half-spaces than just be a winger whose sole responsibility is to get past his man.
2. Hannibal Mejbri
The Under-23s Player of the year is supremely talented and is regarded within the United fan base and even the club itself to have a big future at the club. But even though this is the case Hannibal Mejbri is still yet to be given a consistent run in the first team, making his debut in the back end of last season under then-manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær but is still yet to make another appearance for the Red Devils at the time of writing.Embed from Getty Images
A lot has to be taken into consideration, Hannibal is still young at 19 years, and with the current state of the Manchester United first team, he’s clearly being managed and eased into the team. But under Ten Hag there should be a real be, if that the Tunisian will breakthrough next season, as stated before the Ajax coach embraces the responsibility of giving young players the chance to show what they can do, and even though Bruno Fernandes importance has been highlighted with a new contract, the awaited departure of Paul Pogba could leave a space for Hannibal to take and nail down a marker.
At 19, he is still a raw talent with a huge lack of experience, but Ten Hag’s arrival could unlock his potential to a new level.
1. Donny Van de Beek
The arrival of Erik ten Hag will leave very few players if any as excited as Donny van de Beek. The opportunity to link up with his former manager at Ajax that brings the best out of him seems like a gift from the football gods to a player who hasn’t received much to cheer about during his time with United.Embed from Getty Images
In the season and half that Van de Beek has been at the Red Devils, specifically this season he saw himself reduced to very limited minutes – 26th in the squad for minutes played, 8 matches played 75 minutes this season in the Premier League. This saw him leave on loan to Everton in January, briefly, after Rangnick came in, in search of some more playing time in demand to establish himself as a Premier League midfielder.
Van de Beek’s relationship with ten Hag will be central to his resurgence as a Manchester United player and having played under him at Ajax and being a pivotal part of his team. He was the heartbeat of Ten Hag’s high-octane Ajax side that performed exceptionally in their UEFA Champions League run to the semi-final stage in 2019.
There will be no doubt when Ten Hag arrives Van de Beek will finally receive the fair chance to prove his ability and if any manager can get the best out of Donny it’s Erik Ten Hag.