5 Things ten Hag Must do to fix Manchester United

James Budgen

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Invest into the midfield

Football games are usually won and lost in the midfield, making probably the most important area on the football pitch and in United’s squad, they don’t only lack quality of players in that department, but also quantity after losing four midfield players on a free this summer.

Right now ten Hag has the same problems as other United managers, having to rely on Fred and Scott McTominay, who have shown to be unreliable over the past few years, but right now they are ten Hag’s only option in deep midfield, with neither player having the quality offensively or defensively to play that position compared to the other top teams in the league.

The pursuit of Frenkie de Jong shows the type of quality ten Hag wants to bring in, but with that situation fizzling out, he might have to turn to alternatives and bring in multiple players, who might have lesser quality but add to what United are missing in the midfield.

2022/23 Premier League Specials

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Hold off contract extensions

United have multiple contract expirations this summer to players who have been mainstays in their team over the past few years, including David De Gea, Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford.

These players, despite having great spells in their time at United, have become very inconsistent and detrimental players over the past year and may not become worth the money they demand for a new contract. On top of this, Phil Jones’ contract expires in the summer.

Shaw, Rashford and De Gea are amongst the highest earners at United and would set a new precedent at the club that new contracts won't be handed easily and based on reputation, but recent performances, giving their players more incentive to work harder, something that hasn’t been put on them in the past.

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Let Cristiano Ronaldo leave

Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t the easiest person to work with when he is in a great mood, but when he is insistent on not being at a place, which has reportedly put the mood down around the training ground after all the morale built on the pre-season tour.

Ronaldo is undoubtedly an all-time great but at this stage in his career carries a lot of baggage with him, with him demanding the ball goes to him at all times, despite not working hard out of possession to win it back, which has seemingly rubbed his teammates the wrong way in his year back at the club.

It seems best for both parties that Ronaldo leaves United, especially if United invest in a younger forward, who might not come with the reputation of Cristiano Ronaldo, but will work more effectively in the way ten Hag wants his team to play.

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Start integrating youth players

Man Utd have always been a club that promotes youth teams, even when they were winning titles, bringing in youth players was very important and now the first team squad seem inherently incapable of carrying out what ten Hag wants to do, youth players could be key to getting the spirits up.

With Marcus Rashford underperforming massively, integrating Alejandro Garnacho into the squad could excite not the team but the fans, his style of play will bring energy to the team and has shown flashes in pre-season and in the youth team last season that he has the potential to be a regular first team player.

Fred and McTominay have caused a lot of problems for United early in this season with their lack of ball-playing ability and although turning to the likes of James Garner, Zidane Iqbal and Charlie Savage may cause short-term problems, bringing them in now could set them up for good careers at United and maybe even some short term impact if they can make the step up.

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Find a David De Gea replacement

Despite being praised over the past few years, the flaws in De Gea’s game have been exposed by opposite teams on a weekly basis, with it being shown in the first two games of the season with it costing his team multiple goals.

Ten Hag has always wanted a keeper good with the ball at his feet and capable of coming off his line, prioritising shot prevention over shot stopping, which is the opposite of De Gea right now.

Like the message Pep Guardiola sent when he immediately dropped Joe Hart when he came in at Manchester City, ten Hag would send a clear message to the rest of the squad that even a player who has won titles with the club and has been first choice for a decade can be replaced.

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