In anticipation of the amount of work that lies ahead, Erik ten Hag, the new manager of Manchester United, has started drafting arrangements for the 2022–23 season early.
The Dutchman watched United’s 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, which was the team’s penultimate game under interim head coach Ralf Rangnick. Ten Hag was able to put some fresh concepts into practice throughout the offseason.
United’s summer tour of Australia and Thailand included triumphs over Liverpool, Melbourne Victory, and Crystal Palace, as well as a 2-2 tie with Aston Villa on Saturday. Of course, results aren’t everything at this point, but Ten Hag can be satisfied with some of his team’s improvement.
Manchester United appear to be set on playing a possession-based game under Ten Hag. The former Ajax boss wants his team to play out from the back, with players like Eric Bailly and Harry Maguire feeling more confident on the ball. Bailly, in particular, has shown the ability to move possession up the field.
Maguire has struggled to adjust to the high defensive line that ten Hag has instituted since taking over. When passes are played through the lines, the 29-year-old lacks the recovery speed to maintain track of runners. Given Maguire‘s position as club captain, Ten Hag must be concerned.
It’s early, but United are playing faster than they ever have under Rangnick or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Fred has impressed with his ability to zip passes into teammates. The Manchester United squad does, however, still need a midfielder capable of carrying the ball forward under pressure.
This is why Frenkie de Jong’s capture in Barcelona is so important to Ten Hag. He would be ideal for this position, as Manchester United is looking to diversify their midfield group. De Jong’s inclusion would enable ten Hag to switch between a variety of tactical game strategies.
After the 2-2 draw with Aston Villa, Ten Hag stated:
“We play now a different type of football against different systems. It will also be the case when we face two Spanish teams.
“So, again, a different approach and what we want is, I think, to play proactive football, we want to play with initiative, we want to play attacking football but also [it’s] what we have seen today, for long periods. But, in the end, we have to control the game and that’s what we didn’t do.”
Many of ten Hag’s suggestions have been adopted by Anthony Martial, who has scored three goals in four games while pressing from the front and displaying good poise in front of goal. Jadon Sancho also seemed to have gained confidence from the management change as he scored three goals in four preseason games.
The process of recovery after a hard few years may have started this summer, but Manchester United still have a long way to go before they can be compared to teams like Liverpool and Manchester City as the Premier PINC +0.7 percent League‘s strongest teams. Ten Hag is very clear about his goals for his United team’s return to greatness.