The Decline of Manchester United Under Erik ten Hag
Old Trafford was once a fortress, where Sir Alex Ferguson molded Manchester United into an English football powerhouse. Under his 27-year tenure, the Red Devils set the bar high, consistently producing world-class teams through nurturing academy talents and smart transfer business.
However, after Ferguson’s era, the club struggled to find a worthy successor. The likes of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer all failed to fill his shoes. Now, Erik ten Hag is facing a similar fate.
Ferguson only lost 34 home Premier League games in 405 matches managed, while his five successors matched this in just 196 games. Manchester City’s 3-0 victory at Old Trafford was the latest evidence of United’s decline. It’s their worst start to a top-flight season since 1986-97, trailing leaders Tottenham by 11 points after just ten games.
While reports suggest the board still supports Ten Hag, the fans see no positives in the team’s performances. United no longer dominates against lesser sides, playing defensively even against stronger opponents. It’s a far cry from the attacking style Ferguson instilled.
United’s recent recruits, including Casemiro, Lisandro Martinez, and Christian Eriksen, showed promise initially but haven’t maintained their form. Winger Antony, a significant signing, has failed to make an impact.
The summer 2023 signings, including Mason Mount and Andre Onana, have yet to prove their worth.
Ten Hag’s questionable choices include exiling Cristiano Ronaldo, and his treatment of Jadon Sancho has been puzzling. The dressing room leaks also affect the team’s morale.
United’s decline has been so stark that even former players and football pundits, like Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville, criticize Ten Hag’s tactics and style of play. Other Premier League managers, such as Ange Postecoglou, Roberto De Zerbi, and Unai Emery, have successfully implemented clear tactical blueprints, while Ten Hag has failed to do so.
Another problem is Ten Hag’s captaincy choice. While Harry Maguire was stripped of the captaincy, giving it to Bruno Fernandes, who’s prone to emotional outbursts, hasn’t been ideal. Raphael Varane and Luke Shaw could have been better options.
While the uncertainty surrounding the Glazer family’s ownership created a distraction, it’s not a sufficient excuse for United’s decline. Ten Hag’s lack of progress, poor tactics, and ineffective signings have led to his downfall. His lack of experience managing a top club like United has become evident.
Overall, it’s evident that Ten Hag isn’t the right man for the job, and his time at Manchester United seems to be drawing to a close.