Erik ten Hag was unveiled as Manchester United’s next permanent manager earlier this week and gave an impressive performance in his pre-match press conference.
It’s been a disastrous season for the club and despite their dismal form since the turn of the year, Ralf Rangnick and his side scraped Europa League qualification on the final day of the season.
Ten Hag is yet to assess the squad and is not believed to be meeting with the players until next month when they return for pre-season training and despite wholesale changes to the squad being expected, there are several players who are likely to be favourites under the Dutchman.
The 37-year-old scored 24 goals in all competitions this season and was, by large, the only player keeping United alive in the last two months. He endured a tough period during Rangnick’s first two months and after becoming the target in mainstream media, he found his goalscoring touch and now looks indispensable.
Some supporters have raised concerns that Ronaldo, who will be 38 by the time his contract at United expires, would be a square peg in Ten Hag’s raucous system but if his Ajax side is anything to go by, Ronaldo will have no issues adapting to a new style.
Sebastien Haller, the former West Ham striker, thrived in the same position for Ajax and is not always inclined to trigger a manic press, offsetting any doubts over whether Ten Hag can build his team around Ronaldo.
What’s clear is that in Ronaldo, United have one of the most prolific goalscorers in the world, and amid a season of transition, as next year is likely to be, having a settled focal point could be vital.
The Brazil international has overcome intense scrutiny to become one of the side’s most important players and his tenacious attitude is every manager’s dream – Ten Hag is not likely to be any different to his predecessors in that sense.
In addition to claiming a permanent place in United’s team, he is also one of the first names on Brazil’s team sheet, with Liverpool midfielder Fabinho taking a place on the bench for the last 12 months.
There have been complaints that United are not athletic enough to keep up with the ruthless pace of the Premier League and Fred is one of very few players who don’t fall into that category.
Ten Hag has shown flexibility over the years at Ajax, with different formations trialed to great success but there has been one common theme throughout.
He has always had devastating wingers on each side, with wide threat seen as paramount to breaking low blocks down – an aspect United have struggled badly in for the last three years.
Overall, despite an upturn in form since the turn of the year, Sancho’s season has been disappointing but much of that can be put down to a series of illnesses combined with moving to a different league.
Marcus Rashford’s form is mysterious, Anthony Elanga is still young, Anthony Martial is highly likely to leave and there is no clarity on Mason Greenwood’s situation, paving the way for Sancho to claim a spot immediately.