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Three problems Erik ten Hag has already fixed at Man United – opinion

Erik ten Hag faced the wrath of British press when his side lost their first two games of the season and the Dutchman made huge changes to his side to combat the pressure.

By the time Liverpool came to Old Trafford in August, it already felt like United’s season could badly unravel. It didn’t.

Since that disturbing 4-0 defeat at Brentford, Ten Hag’s second game in charge, United have won all four of their Premier League games and secured their first three points in the Europa League.

Stretty News takes a look at some of the changes Ten Hag has made and three issues he has already fixed.

Balance
Going into this summer, United had a real issue at centre-back. The quality of defenders at Ten Hag’s disposal was already under the microscope after the Reds conceded more goals than ever before in the previous campaign.

Furthermore, some defenders were injury prone. But perhaps most importantly to Ten Hag, all six of the senior centre-backs were left-footed.

In a possession-based system, that can be challenging to work around. He has solved that problem by signing Lisandro Martinez, who is left-footed.

Read more: Man United could target more signings in next phase of Erik ten Hag rebuild

Having a left-footed player on the left side opens up many more passing angles and makes it easier to progress the ball into dangerous spaces.

The same has been done in other areas of the pitch. Christian Eriksen and Casemiro have been signed as midfield reinforcements and they instantly became the best deep-lying midfielders on the ball. Eriksen, in particular, has had a major impact.

Further up the pitch, United signed Antony, the first out-and-out left-footed winger on the right-hand side for many years. Mason Greenwood, who has played in that role before, was predominantly a striker by nature.

Team hierarchy
Under the previous regime, most notably under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but also under Ralf Rangnick, some players seemed to be undroppable.

Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw, in particular, seemed to be playing regardless of whether they deserved it or not. That has almost changed overnight.

The pair both started the first two games of the season and they were both poor. They were dropped for the next game and since then, the only appearance between both players in the Premier League is a late cameo from Maguire.

Fred, another regular for the last three years, has been dropped indefinitely and Ten Hag showed he is not afraid to make big decisions when he took Cristiano Ronaldo, the greatest goalscorer of all time, out of his side.

Under the Dutchman, every player must earn their place in the team and merits from the past won’t do it – long may it continue.

Mentality
United were rolled over more than once last season. They conceded 15 goals over four games against Liverpool and Manchester City. They also conceded four against Brighton and Watford.

They were frail. Any little setback in a game could be the catalyst for a disastrous collapse. Not under Erik ten Hag. He has brought in characters and instilled a new mindset.

Work hard and you will reap the benefits. Bruno Fernandes is the vice-captain but at this point, he will be wondering why he hasn’t officially been named the skipper.

Fernandes embodies Ten Hag’s intangibles. Aggression, determination, eagerness to learn and accountability. Ten Hag is slowly turning his side into mentality monsters.

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3 Comments

  1. Spot on. The team looks a better shape now. The chemistry around the camp is growing speedily. Hope this continues for a long time.

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