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Ten Hag decision means Old Trafford can finally be United

Erik ten Hag will remain as Manchester United manager after the club’s end-of-season review concluded with the decision to keep faith in the Dutchman.

In a summer of change at Manchester United, there will be none in the dugout, as new investors Ineos, now in charge of football operations, have opted to stick rather than twist with Ten Hag. After a decade of decline on and off the pitch since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, new arrivals in the boardroom – and direction – have increased optimism that the Red Devils can return to their former status.

 

Omar Berrada’s appointment as chief executive from Manchester City is considered a coup, while Jason Wilcox has arrived as technical director from Southampton. Dan Ashworth is expected to follow as sporting director, having been placed on gardening leave at Newcastle in February amid ongoing discussions.

New faces in the hierarchy secured, the final decision was on who should lead the side. Ineos, to their credit, have not been rushed in that verdict. Negotiations have been held with coaching candidates including Mauricio Pochettino and Thomas Tuchel, before Ten Hag’s time in limbo was ended this week. The 54-year-old has been handed a show of faith and now the club can move forward, United.

Ten Hag’s time in English football has polarised opinion. His first season was deemed satisfactory, ending a six-year wait for silverware with League Cup success and securing Champions League football.

Last season, however, was far from sufficient. United slumped to their lowest league finish in 34 years, lost a record 13 games in a Premier League season, and performed with a vulnerability that saw only relegated Sheffield United – who conceded a record 104 goals – offer up more shots-per-game (17.8) to opposition sides than Ten Hag’s team (17.6).

The caveat, of course, has been cruel luck with injuries. Lisandro Martinez and Luke Shaw, integral to Ten Hag’s plan, missed long periods and a staggering 14 different centre-back combinations were used in the Premier League in 2023-24.

It’s no wonder inconsistency was prevalent.

The club’s FA Cup win over Manchester City salvaged a place in Europe and perhaps Ten Hag’s job. Now, the time for excuses is over. For the first time in a long time, the Red Devils have respected operators in the boardroom and investors who want progress alongside profits.

Recruitment will be key. The top teams in world football follow a three-step plan: Sign on the up, develop, and sell at the right time. Across the last decade, United have failed on all counts. Since Ferguson’s retirement at the end of the 2012-13 campaign, and excluding academy products, the Red Devils have made transfer profit on just FOUR players.

 

Dan James, Javier Hernandez, Daley Blind and Chris Smalling are the only players signed and sold on for profit, which combined equates to just £19.4m. Furthermore, in their entire history, Manchester United have sold just three players for more than €40m (£33.7m). Manchester City – the benchmark in the Premier League and a club capable of keeping their best talent, therefore avoiding skewing this statistic – have done so five times since 2020-21 alone.

Improvement is needed across the board if Manchester United are to return to former heights and Ten Hag is among those who must demonstrate more when the new season rolls around. With the backing of the board and unity above him, he might now have the platform to silence the doubters.

Read – Five must watch games in the Euro 2024 group stage

See more – The favourites to win the Euro 2024 Player of the Tournament award

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