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Erik Ten Hag Needs Time, Patience And Lots More Money

Shaun Cronin for Bookies.com

Shaun Cronin  | 7 mins

Erik Ten Hag Needs Time, Patience And Lots More Money

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If ever a performance epitomised an entire season, it was Manchester United’s recent 4-0 defeat away at Liverpool. Worst of all, everyone saw it coming, from fans to punters to betting apps.

A shoddy and listless showing from United at Anfield featured three players (Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Nemanja Matić) who seem to be on their way out of the club for nothing as they let their contracts run out.

The players have endured accusations of not caring about the club from many quarters, and it’s been hard for them to fight back against that assertion given the results they’ve been party to in what has to be described as a rollcaster campaign.

Supporters of the Red Devils were left to cling to a 10-minute foul-ridden cameo from youngster Hannibal Mejbri against Liverpool as they watched their bitter rivals disappear over the horizon away from them - potentially on their way to a historic quadruple that would surpass United’s treble of 1999, their greatest ever single season achievement.

Simply put, hope is in short supply at Old Trafford at the moment. Games in hand for both Tottenham and Arsenal make a top four finish seem unlikely for Ralf Rangnick’s side, meanwhile West Ham and Wolves will still have designs on pipping them for sixth place in the Premier League.

A New Dawn Is Needed

Pundits were almost tripping over themselves to criticise not only Manchester United’s performance at Liverpool, but how the club is run from top to bottom.

Taking the Liverpool game first, while it was dreadful for the most part, it has to be said that United were without Cristiano Ronaldo after he tragically announced the loss of his new-born son the day before the game.

It is totally understandable if that news affected the squad emotionally and also impacted on preparations for the derby.

However, the current state of a club that once held an iron-grip on the Premier League cannot be ignored. Key players have been allowed to whittle down their contracts and are now on their way out of the club, meanwhile the interim manager Rangnick was seemingly waiting for his replacement to be announced at any moment over the last few weeks.

Erik ten Hag was finally confirmed as Manchester United manager on April 21 and, let’s face it, he’s been handed a job akin to freeing the Ever Given from the Suez Canal when it comes to turning the club around as he takes over at the end of the season.

Rangnick, who will now shift upstairs to a consultancy role, will need to bang heads together with ten Hag as recruitment, contracts and training ground upgrades are just some of the myriad of issues facing the new Man United management team.

Fans will need to be patient with ten Hag though, as Rangnick recently revealed he felt the team were years behind Liverpool in terms of their development. One man who agrees with that assessment is Manchester United legend Andrew Cole, but he also ran the rule over Ralf Rangnick’s time at the club.

“It's been interesting,” Cole said. “I don't think they've got what they've been looking for. The club would have been looking for a big improvement and it has not come.

“Sometimes you make gambles like that when you bring in managers, and it doesn't work out. If you look at the state of the game, some managers may only last six months these days. That's football!

“It's been a disappointing season for United and, unfortunately, that's the way it is going at the moment. A club like Manchester United should not be lingering in its current position.

“I don't think it is a case of what United are going to do this summer, because one summer window is not going to rectify what has gone on in the last seven to nine years. It's going to be another building process for the club.

“Does it worry me? Yes, it does. But ultimately look at how long it took Liverpool to get themselves back to the top. You have to look around and say to yourself, that each team will have a period where they are going to dominate.”

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Time Is Money For Erik Ten Hag

Patience is something that has been in short supply for Man United supporters and the board since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club in May 2013. Four permanent managers, two caretakers and an interim boss haven’t worked out since.

However, Cole is calling for Ten Hag to be given the space necessary to turn things around at the 20-time champions of England.

“I haven’t seen much of Erik ten Hag, because I haven’t watched a lot of Dutch football recently,” said the Red Devils legend.

“But, by all accounts, he's done a fantastic job at Ajax. He has done very well with them in the Champions League as well.

“It all sounds like he is a really good manager, with a system of play that he enjoys using at Ajax with young players. So, I'm like everybody else, I'll be waiting to see what he does.

“Fingers crossed, that he can bring that magic to Manchester United.

“Hopefully, he is going to be the right fit and he's going to bring in the right players to start moving the club forward. But, if you are listening to what the interim manager (Rangnick) said, he believes they are six years behind Liverpool. So, four or five transfer windows are not going to be enough.

“At the moment, Manchester City and Liverpool are fighting it out and Manchester United need to get to that level. It doesn't happen overnight.”

When asked if an exodus from the squad was needed in the summer to get the Red Devils back fighting for honours, Cole was emphatic that only ten Hag can decide that.

“That's totally out of my hands, that's going to be down to the new manager and what he wants to do,” said the treble winner.

“It's easy for someone like me to jump on a bandwagon but, it's not as easy as saying who they should or shouldn't bring in or out. Those decisions have got to be made by the people at the football club and the new manager.

“The new manager will decide on what kind of players he is looking for and the profile of them. All I want is the best for Manchester United.”

A New Formula May Be Needed To Get United Firing

Ralf Rangnick was not shy of ruffling a few feathers in the United squad, so it will be interesting to see how the team adapt to Ten Hag’s uber-detailed style of management.

You only have to look at the approaches of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp - the managers of the two favourites for the Champions League with football betting sites - to see a one size fits all model doesn’t work in the sport.

After working under Alex Ferguson for so many years, Cole knows well how important a manager can be when it comes to setting a culture at a football club.

“If a manager is not going to set the entire culture at a club, then who does? He's got to, that's why he is the manager,” said Cole.

“Do Man United need a strong character as manager? There is a strong possibility that they might.

“But, they might also need a manager that comes in and shows some love to the players. Football has changed so much that you never really know what is going on or what kind of managers work.”

If you do fancy Manchester United to defy the odds and finish fourth this season, you can back them at odds of 20/1 with Paddy Power.

About the Author

Shaun Cronin for Bookies.com
Shaun Cronin
Having previously spent time at Paddy Power, Landmark Digital and Red FM, Shaun has amassed experience in both journalism and sports betting industries. He has also been featured in the Irish Examiner, Evening Echo and breakingnews.ie. You'll find his interviews and stories here at Bookies.com.