Two games into the new season and Manchester United are already under a world of pressure—both on the field and off it.
Erik ten Hag’s revolution at Old Trafford has got off to the worst possible start. A 2-1 opening weekend loss to Brighton and Albion at home was followed by a chastening 4-0 drubbing away to Brentford. The club is once again in crisis, with a weak, imbalanced squad and several players not good enough to perform at the highest level week in, week out.
Having walked into one of the biggest sporting entities in Manchester United, Erik ten Hag is wary of the lofty expectations of the club and fans alike. The Dutch tactician, a serial winner with Ajax, is the first Man United manager to lose his first two competitive games since John Chapman in 1921 while the Red Devils have now lost their last seven away matches.
Certainly, Ten Hag needs new players before the transfer window slams shut but, perhaps more importantly, he should fix the glaring problems in the squad that he has inherited. That being said, here are three problems he must quickly fix at the club to get the season back on track.
Sort out the defensive problems
Man United are bottom of the Premier League table and things don’t get easier for Ten Hag. His next game is at home to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on August 22.
After two games, two losses and a goal difference of minus five, it is apparent where the immediate problems lie. David de Gea was culpable for the opening two goals against Brentford, while summer signing Lisandro Martinez endured a tough outing against Ivan Toney and was hooked off at half-time.
Harry Maguire, an unpopular skipper, continues to start games ahead of a serial winner in Raphael Varane. Ten Hag must make bold decisions to bring some spirit and confidence back into the team, and if he feels experienced players like De Gea, Maguire and Luke Shaw needs dropping against Liverpool, so be it.
Bring balance to his midfield
Most of the scrutiny has been on Manchester United’s leaky defence after six goals conceded in two games; however, there is an argument to be made that the squad’s main problem lies in midfield.
Scott McTominay and Fred started the season in central midfield against Brighton and struggled, giving the ball away constantly. As a result, Ten Hag dropped McTominay and paired Fred with Christian Eriksen at Brentford. However, Fred and Eriksen were run ragged by Brentford’s midfielders, with the latter getting robbed by Mathias Jensen for the hosts’ second goal.
If United don’t bring in a midfielder by the time Liverpool arrives at Old Trafford, Ten Hag must try adding some much-needed balance in his engine room that looks weak and broken at this moment in time.
Solve the Cristiano Ronaldo situation
It is an open secret that Cristiano Ronaldo wants to leave Manchester United for a club that is competing in the Champions League this term.
After being benched in the first game, Ronaldo started against Brentford but failed to make any sort of an impact. The Portuguese still remains an incredible finisher but he doesn’t fit the pressing, proactive style of football that Ten Hag wants his side to play.
With less than two weeks left for the transfer deadline, the United boss must decide one way or another what Ronaldo’s future is. The prospect of losing him so late in the window is unappealing, but if Ten Hag feels his squad can cope up and play as a team more then he must not stand in the Portuguese superstar’s way.
I am Rohan Sengupta from one of the busiest cities in India, Mumbai. A Journalism graduate with a keen interest in sports, football is something I simply cannot live without and writing, discussing and analyzing the game is what I do 24*7.