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Soccer

Erik ten Hag’s big Manchester United clear out

New Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag joins the club with a major job on his hands over the coming three seasons of his contract.

Xavi Heras
Update:
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - APRIL 9: Coach Erik Ten Hag of Ajax  during the Dutch Eredivisie  match between Ajax v Sparta at the Johan Cruijff Arena on April 9, 2022 in Amsterdam Netherlands (Photo by Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates ImagesGetty

Manchester United are going through one of their most difficult spells as a football club. Since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013, the club hasn’t recovered. Ferguson had been in charge at Old Trafford for almost 27 years. As things stand, it feels like it could be another 27 years before they return to their previous best.

Managers with excellent CVs have been parading through the Old Trafford front door but have ended up leaving through the back. Louis van Gaal left, as did José Mourinho. Ralf Rangnick, among others, has been unable to prevent the English giants from sinking. The management of the club has been a shambles.

The announcement of the arrival of another of Europe’s top coaches, Erik ten Hag, arouses not excitement but empathy. He leaves home and a secure job to enter the storm at United. The 52-year-old has his work cut out for him, as his predecessor Rangnick announced after Tuesday’s 4-0 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield.

“It was embarrassing, disappointing. It was a humiliation. If you analyse the situation, it’s not easy. It’s clear to me that there will be six, seven, eight, maybe even 10 new players. But before you sign those players you need to know how you want to play,” Rangnick said.

Clear out coming at United

Juan Mata, Edinson Cavani, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard are out of contract at the end of the current season and are all set to depart. With the exception of Pogba, the other three have had barely any playing time. Experienced midfielder Nemanja Matic recently announced on social media that he would be moving on this summer.

As well as those five departures, there are several players whose futures hang in the balance. Goalkeeper Dean Henderson could also depart, as he looks to play regularly elsewhere and is the club’s number two behind David De Gea, who will receive the Manchester United Player of the Year award for the fifth season in a row. Ten Hag had asked to take Henderson on loan to Ajax in January, so it remains to be seen if he wants to keep the English netminder around.

Defensive issues

All of the club’s full-backs could end up leaving this summer as none of them have a guaranteed place in the team currently or under Ten Hag. Alex Telles, Diogo Dalot, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams could wave goodbye to their United careers. Spaniards Marc Jurado and Álvaro Fernández are the future, but they need to continue developing before making the leap to the first team. They are 18 and 19 years old respectively.

Villarreal’s Pau Torres helped his side beat United in last season’s Europa League final, and a number of Premier League clubs are keeping tabs on him. Phil Jones, who has made just five league appearances in two seasons and whose contract expires in the summer of 2023, will most likely move on. Centre-back Eric Bailly, who joined from Villarreal, has been linked with a permanent move to Marseille.

Rashford stagnates

After all the early optimism around Marcus Rashford, the English forward has stagnated. After the defeat in the derby against Manchester City, there were rumours about him wanting to leave. He is still just 24 and can improve under Ten Hag. His contract expires next summer, so a decision will have to be taken. Another frustrated forward is Anthony Martial, who is currently on loan with Sevilla and intends to leave United.

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