merik ten Hag is confident in his ability to turn Manchester United’s fortunes around despite defeats in their first two Premier League games. Unfortunately for the new head coach, the 4-0 loss to Brentford showed that his players are not implementing his style effectively, bringing morale to an all-time low at Old Trafford.
It’s admirable that Ten Hag wants to replicate the formula that has worked for him elsewhere to make big strides at United in the long run, but with a game against Liverpool awaiting on Monday, another big defeat could have significant ramifications. Trying to adapt to a new set of tactical and stylistic rules is difficult enough for footballers at the best of times, but when confidence is low it is next to impossible.
To get to a stage where Ten Hag can make a real impact on the United side, he will have to work on his strengths in the short term. A pragmatic approach could help a team creaking under the pressure of being Manchester United players at the bottom of the Premier League table. Casemiro’s footballing experience and intelligence should help a demoralized group when available, but overloading the disbelieving with intricate plans is not beneficial.
Those who have played Ten Hag say that his methods take time to get used to. United fans are behind Ten Hag, knowing the breadth of the task, but if the first few months continue this way as the Dutchman waits for everything to fall into place, he may not have the time needed to correct years of mistakes. in United.
If Brentford are capable of tearing United apart, then Liverpool will be very sure to do the same with interest. Jürgen Klopp’s men have drawn their first two games and will seek to leave a score against a team with two defeats.
Scott McTominay and Fred aren’t the long-term solution to United’s midfield problems, but Ten Hag has to work with what’s available against Liverpool. Neither can provide accurate passing and quick progress on the pitch. One might have to team up with Casemiro, and Ten Hag might want to prove himself by turning the duo so he can play something similar to his style, but that might be a step too far and he should embrace their strengths instead. to try to correct them. built flaws.
Lisandro Martinez was withdrawn after 45 minutes at Brentford, but he seems capable on the ball and smart enough to adapt to the direct nature of the Premier League, and in the coming weeks he could be used in midfield alongside Casemiro.
When Stefan Savic joined Manchester City, he struggled in the air and was bullied by numerous forwards, leaving him weak on the pitch. Despite his faults, Roberto Mancini insisted on putting him in the line of fire when he lacked confidence. His career in the City never recovered. The Montenegrin, however, has had an impressive career with Fiorentina and Atletico Madrid, where he was more understandingly coached and allowed to grow. Martinez will be attacked in the air regardless of the opponent, and it may be wise to adjust his position for now to avoid lasting damage.
Sometimes a step back is needed to allow a team to move forward. Under Ole Gunnar Solskjær, United prepared to fight back, accepting their limitations. Forwards win matches, but defenders win titles; not that United should focus too much on the latter. If they can put together a stronger defense for the Liverpool visit, or at least one that doesn’t concede four in 25 minutes, then it can help build confidence, especially with the beefy Casemiro to be added later. They were disorganized at Brentford and playing from behind with a goalkeeper unable to provide the required distribution.
Having Christian Eriksen on the pitch at the same time as Bruno Fernandes is a luxury that United cannot afford. They are good players, but Ten Hag, to help with stability, may need to decide between the two. Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea combine athleticism with skill on the pitch and United cannot survive on the latter alone, especially given how ineffective dominating possession has been for them against Brighton and Brentford.
Crystal Palace showed that Liverpool are vulnerable on the counterattack; Wilfried Zaha came through a gap to score and United can take advantage of that weakness. Options in Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Anthony Martial and Anthony Elanga should be able to cause any lateral problems down the flanks and can help United get up the pitch quicker if they are more direct. They provide something that Cristiano Ronaldo cannot: constant pressure. His legendary status is not in doubt, but his inability to pressure defenders over the course of 90 minutes at a struggling United means it may be time for a tough decision.
So far, Ten Hag have not received the players needed to reverse the downward spiral that United have suffered in recent years. The team is very similar to the one that battled for sixth place last season and seems unable to adapt quickly to the methods Ten Hag is trying to instill, so it may be better than the Red Devils you know. The scattershot focus on transfers to appease Ten Hag is intriguing. It’s hard to plan when goals are so different in what they offer to a team. Adrien Rabiot and Casemiro are certainly not the same type of player. With less than two weeks to go until the transfer window closes, few can guess what the team will look like.
Mikel Arteta has added Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko to his ranks, two 25-year-olds who know what it takes to win the Premier League. United will expect a similar impact from Casemiro. Arsenal have needed numerous windows to carve out the team they want and United will have to accept that they are in the same boat and panic buying in this window may not help them in future.
Simplifying things in the short term to restore United to a level from which they can build makes more sense for Ten Hag, but it will go against his ideals. As a person, Ten Hag is direct and to the point, and for now it would be better if his team were.