Erik Ten Hag to United, start of a New Era? Or just another blunder?

Manchester United has quite been the talk of the town these days. United hasn’t been performing up to the mark, their ruthless 5-0 defeat against Liverpool at Old Trafford isn’t easy to digest for the United fans as they have the most heated rivalry in the Premier League and a defeat like this has a major setback for the team, the manager and the fans. They are desperately waiting for a new manager ever since the sacking of Ole Gunner Solskjaer in October, Later Ralf Ragnick had been appointed as the manager for the Red Devils but he since his arrival hasn’t made a difference in the team as they have been performing inconsistently in the League. The £80 million signing of Harry Maguire from Leicester City to Manchester United hasn’t worked for them. Cristiano’s arrival may have given some hopes, but a single player cannot help the team win. With his insane ability of goal scoring, he has managed to bring United into the top half of the Premier League Table, but they cannot rely entirely on him for the season. Since Fabrizio Romano had confirmed  Erik Ten Hag’s move from Ajax To United on his Twitter handle, this is a done deal and he will be joining United very soon.

Erik Ten Hag is a Dutch professional football manager and currently is the head coach of AFC Ajax. He was a former center-back and played for different clubs like FC Twente and others. He started his managerial career in 2012 with Go Ahead Eagles. Then he coached Bayern Munich II from 2013 to 2015. Later he became the sporting director of FC Utrecht from 2015 to 2017 and gained success as he made the club Qualify for Europa League. On 21, December 2017 he was appointed the Head Coach for AFC Ajax, under him Ajax defeated the defending Champions of the Champions League, a.ka., Real Madrid (5-3 aggregate), Later on, defeated the Italian champions Juventus(3-2 aggregate) in the Quarterfinals, Van de Beek and De Ligt were the key players for the Quarterfinal Legs. Ten Hag’s Ajax gave a tough battle in the Semi-final to Tottenham Hotspurs as Van de Beek, De Ligt and Frenkie De Jong played exceptionally well under Ten Hag that night, but eventually, Lucas Moura’s hattrick saved Spurs and ended Ajax’s dream of the Champions League in the Semi-finals. He had won 2 Dutch League Cups for Ajax in 2018-19 and 20-21. He became the first manager in Ajax’s history to reach the milestone of the fastest 100 wins.

Ralf Ragnick favors control possession, in this setup United tries to keep the possession of the ball to themselves and tries to find any gaps in the opposition’s defense eventually trying to break it or move past through it. It is a very patient and low tempo possession tactic when compared to tiki-taka, as this tactic is like two sides of a coin. Ragnick’s United has a very less conversion rate and it is a crucial reason that Cristiano is facing the worst goal-scoring drought since 2009. Erik Ten Hag has a different and new approach as it is a mild and modern version of tiki-tika.

Ten Hag typically uses a simple lined-up formation,  the 4-3-3 which is very often used by many other managers like Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, etc. This formation helps the team when they are in possession the wingbacks move forward with the wings to their respective flanks and create a chance for goal conversion which has a high success rate for the team and if the team loses out the possession then as wingbacks are induced in for the attack, the center-backs cover for the respective wingbacks and the midfield transforms itself, i.e, the defensive midfielder moves to cover for the center-backs, and the center midfield moves back into the defensive midfield position. The defensive midfielder acts as an anchor whereas the keeper acts as a traditional goalkeeper rather than a modern one. This keeps the tempo of the game highly attacking which provides them to make decoy runs and counterattacks. After the addition of Sebastian Haller, ex-West Ham no.9 the team has seen a direct possession approach with a different style and his false 9 plays a crucial role for the team. He has scored the highest goals for Ajax in this year’s Champions League. They have won 6 of 6 Group stage matches in the Champions League.

Ten Hag’s arrival at Old Trafford can change a couple for United of things like the training, administration, style of play, and most importantly a change in the squad as they are very high possibilities that he might bring new signings into the squad. United has eyes on many players for this summer transfer window like Kalvin Phillips from Leeds United and Christopher Nkunku from RB Leipzig, etc. They are high chances that he can change the formation in the midfield for Fred, Pogba, Bruno, etc. Experienced players like Cristiano, de Gea, Cavani, and Varane need to add more additional efforts for the new formations to work under the manager.

Manchester United is one of the Big six in the Premier League. They have a significant history but since Sir Alex’s retirement in 2013, they have seen a drought in their hunt for Silverware in the past decade. United’s recent trophy was the Europa cup in 2017-18. Ten Hag has a great opportunity for himself to rule the League with his tactics with the club, His main priority after his arrival at the club would be to sign young blood for the Red Devil’s squad they need an important change in positions like strikers, right-backs, defensive midfielders, etc. Ten Hag has to bring some promise delivering transfers that make a difference for him. Is Ten Hag’s arrival to Manchester United a beginning of a new era for the Red Devils since the retirement of Sir Alex? Can Ten Hag’s United reach up to the heights as Sir Alex’s United or will they have the potential to reach greater heights?

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