It might have only been six months that has passed since Erik ten Hag stepped foot into the dugout at Old Trafford, and the outcome so far has been one that Manchester United fans are thrilled with.
Big decisions have had to have been made along the way, which has only enforced ten Hag’s position as manager of the club, and given him further autonomy on the steps needed to take to pull the club back to the top of the pyramid. The leading soccer betting sites see them securing a top-four finish this season.
Ten Hag has handled everything with grace and class that has been thrown his way, which has included: omitting club captain Harry Maguire in favor of new signing Lisandro Martinez, sticking to his principles and values and dropping star player Marcus Rashford for being late, and most highly pressurised of all, deciding that Cristiano Ronaldo had no future at the club.
All of these have allowed ten Hag to lay his cards on the table and show the players he means business. The results of those decisions have been wholly positive, which has allowed United to rise up into the top four of the Premier League and compete on multiple fronts. We look at three key areas that ten Hag has helped improved.
The former Ajax manager might not have secured his first choice in Frenkie de Jong last summer, but the arrival of Casemiro from Real Madrid has been a stellar one.
The Brazil international has excelled in all departments and allowed the team to become far more balanced throughout matches. With Casemiro’s ability and composure, it has sped up the learning process that ten Hag is trying to implement in the team by going towards a more possession-based game.
Alongside Casemiro, Christian Eriksen’s arrival on a free transfer has been a masterstroke of a transfer. The Denmark international continues to prove his status among the Premier League elite, and has seven assists to his name at the halfway point of the season.
The midfield area is certainly one in which Manchester United will look to strengthen further in the summer window, but ten Hag’s additions have certainly added a new, positive dimension to United’s all-round play.
Ten Hag has done a lot of things to a high standard since arriving in Manchester last summer, but how he has treated Marcus Rashford and allowed him to express himself is arguably top of the list.
Manchester United fans saw a Rashford that was laboring throughout all of last season and looked deeply unhappy. The England international has come out since and said he was in a difficult place, on and off the pitch, which hampered his form considerably.
However, ten Hag has revitalised the left winger and given him the opportunity to truly excel. As seen during his England cameos and performances for club, Rashford is in the form of his life with statistics to prove it.
So far this season, Rashford has contributed to 24 goals and assists in 29 appearances – a quite frightening amount that has pushed Manchester United up the table and firmly into contention for a Champions League place according to the leading soccer betting apps.
Rashford looks fitter, sharper and far more clinical since working with ten Hag and his coaches, as well as handling the pressure of being the out-and-out goalscorer for the team. Fans of the Red Devils will be sincerely hoping that this form continues throughout the season and a new contract is signed imminently.
Manchester United have been torn apart in recent seasons for their lack of defensive prowess, but ten Hag has now started to build a back four that is beginning to come into its own.
With Lisandro Martinez’s arrival over the summer, the Dutchman brought in a left-footed central defender, who is more than comfortable on the ball and incredibly aggressive. Too many times last season, the Red Devils were passive in defensive and allowed the opposition to run at them without making a challenge.
However, with Martinez and Raphael Varane, United have two players that play on the front foot, and who have the speed to enforce a high line up the pitch. That allows the gaps to close between the banks of midfield and attack and create a smaller playing area, forcing the opposition to make errors and lose possession.
The improvements made to Luke Shaw, Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka this season alone have been phenomenal. Each player has raised their performance tenfold and become an important cog in United’s defensive wheel.
There is now a confidence among the defense, which has been severely lacking over the past three years, that breathes life into the midfield and attack. Ten Hag will still be wanting further additions in support of his starting defense, but can now feel assured that, to a man, there is a defensive rigidity among the back line.
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