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Soccer

Erik ten Hag to move on up to nine Manchester United players

It is a summer of charge at Old Trafford. Manchester United have turned to Dutch head coach Erik ten Hag to turn the club’s fortunes around.

Update:
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE)  Manager Erik ten Hag of Manchester United in action during a first team training session at Carrington Training Ground on June 27, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)
Ash DonelonGetty

It is a summer of charge at Old Trafford. Manchester United have turned to Dutch head coach Erik ten Hag to turn the club’s fortunes around.

No one has been able to fill Sir Alex Ferguson’s shoes since the Scot left the club in 2013. United fans haven’t tasted success since five years ago when the team then coached by José Mourinho beat Ajax in the Europa League final.

It was at the Dutch club where Erik ten Hag came to prominence. He led the club to the semi-final of the 2018-19 Champions League, beating Real Madrid, Juventus and Tottenham away from home.

A 96th-minute Spurs goal from forward Lucas Moura prevented Ten Hag from guiding his side to the final. Ten Hag is hoping that a number of players from that generation, including Frenkie De Jong, will help him turn the tide at Old Trafford.

Pogba leaves United

Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard and Nemanja Matic have all left United, but Ten Hag expects to release up to nine more players.

Anthony Martial is one of them. The English club agreed to a clause when they signed him that would see Monaco receive a financial bonus if he won the Ballon d’Or. United are going to save that money. There is no doubt about it.

The arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo last summer didn’t help Martial’s case and in January he went out on loan to Sevilla, where he only scored one goal and provided one assist in 12 games.

Goalkeeper Dean Henderson will go out on loan to newly-promoted Nottingham Forest. It was at Sheffield United that Henderson caught the eye of Manchester United, who still hope he will be David De Gea’s long-term replacement. No option to buy has been included in the deal with Forest.

Brazilian midfielder Andreas Pereira, who has spent last season on loan at Flamengo, wants to stay in Brazil. For the moment, the only club that has shown interest in him is Fulham, another newly-promoted side.

Defensive vulnerability

Defence is United’s biggest headache. Since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, the club have spent over €230 million on defenders. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones were the centre-back pairing during the Scottish manager’s last spell in charge. It didn’t work. And their performances continued to worsen.

David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal came to try their luck and left. In 2016, with the arrival of Mourinho, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelöf also landed at Old Trafford.

Injuries and personal disputes meant that it was Smalling and Lindelöf who paired up for much of the 2017-18 and 2018-19 campaigns.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also sought to improve his backline, with the acquisition of Harry Maguire from Leicester City in 2019, and Raphaël Varane from Real Madrid last summer. The latter two are the only two names guaranteed a place in next season’s squad.

Bailly, Jones, and academy player Axel Tuanzebe will leave Manchester United this summer, as will full-backs Alex Telles and Brandon Williams (on loan). There are doubts surrounding Aaron Wan-Bissaka. If he improves in attack and impresses his new manager he could stay in Manchester.

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