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How Erik Ten Hag is shifting the narrative at Manchester United

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16th January, 2023

It must be pretty good being a Manchester United fan right now.

A lot has happened over the past decade – some good, some bad.

What did all Manchester United managers post Sir Alex Ferguson have in common? They weren’t able to bring stability to the club along with ownership, which has hindered their prospects of being where they think they belong – at the top.

The man that was deemed responsible to turn things around following United’s worst-ever Premier League campaign last term? Dutchman and former Ajax manager Erik Ten Hag.

Although Ten Hag did a fantastic job at Ajax, there were concerns that managing one of the biggest clubs in the world was going to be too much of a mountain for him to climb.

Statements like that proved premature.

Despite some bad hurdles to contend with initially, Ten Hag looks right at home at Old Trafford.


If having the highest win percentage (72%) through his first 25 games as United boss compared to Pep Guardiola (56), Mikel Arteta (56) and Jurgen Klopp (48) wasn’t enough, the 52-year-old has guided United to being the only English team left this campaign still competing across four different club competitions – Premier League, Europa League, FA Cup and League Cup.

He has also led the team to 21 victories in all competitions so far this season, which is more than the 20 wins United managed last season.

This highlights how hard the Dutchman has worked to implement his philosophy in Manchester, which has received a lot of praise.

His outstanding tactical display – most notably in the first 45 minutes – in United’s victory over Manchester City at Old Trafford last weekend showed the great progress that has been made.

It looked like City were going to run away with the game after they went up 1-0 in the second half, however United dug deep to produce a fantastic comeback that was reminiscent of a classic Manchester United outfit – a side that was never counted out until the final whistle.

United’s win over City secured their ninth win in a row in all competitions, ten victories on the bounce at Old Trafford, and only one loss in their last 19 games in all competitions. It’s a stunning turnaround from their shocking losses to Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford to begin the 2022-23 campaign.

Ten Hag’s approach to player management – whether people agree with it or not – is another aspect of his coaching that has had massive influence changing the mindset of the club.


You just have to look at two prime examples: the saga around the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and more recently Marcus Rashford being dropped from the starting line-up for disciplinary reasons.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United

(Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

This is the sort of management style United have been crying out for since the days of Ferguson.

One individual that Ten Hag has improved more than anyone in the squad is Rashford, who has 16 goals in all competitions to his name this season, which eclipses the low-scoring five he managed in 2021-22.

New signings Casemiro, Antony, Lisandro Martínez and Tyrell Malacia have all integrated into the squad, while their first piece of business in the January transfer window saw the arrival of Dutch striker Wout Weghorst bolster numbers in attack for the 20-time Premier League champions.

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Ten Hag will hope his squad stay fit for the rest of the season to battle the current busy schedule over the next few months. Injuries taking a toll could prove a determining factor in where United end up at the conclusion of this campaign.

There is a real sense of optimism at the Theatre of Dreams and United are eager to continue this momentum, claim a major trophy for the first time since 2017, and return to Champions League football.