CHRIS WHEELER: Ten Hag can still be the solution to United's problems

CHRIS WHEELER: Man United’s problems run far deeper than Erik ten Hag. The club in crisis panic is setting in, but they MUST hold their nerve… the Dutchman can still be the solution

  • Manchester United’s defeat to Newcastle ramped up pressure on Erik ten Hag 
  • He has made mistakes but he can still be the solution to their many problems 
  • Is Erik ten Hag out of his depth at Man United? Listen here to It’s All Kicking Off 

‘My future has not changed one bit. I have a great job and I know exactly the direction I want to go in. It has not been the season we wanted but I have ideas I want to put in place.’David Moyes, 2014

‘Everybody knows I have signed a three-year contract, and I have said in all my press conferences that is not one game, it is a process. I want to continue until the end.’ Louis van Gaal, 2016

‘I want to stay. My intention is to work, to improve and to bring the club to where it belongs. I don’t see any reason not to stay. I still have a contract, and my desire is to stay while the owners and the board are happy with my work.’Jose Mourinho, 2018

‘I accept the responsibility and that is mine today and it’s mine going forward. I do believe in myself, I do believe that I am getting close to what I want with the club.’Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, 2021

Listening to Erik ten Hag vow to fight to turn around Manchester United’s fortunes on Wednesday night, it was hard not to recall the comments made by his predecessors at Old Trafford over the last decade without feeling a sense of déjà vu.

Erik ten Hag’s problems are mounting after Man United were knocked out of the Carabao Cup

It has been a miserable start to the season but the board must refrain from sacking Ten Hag

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Here we are again. Manchester United in crisis. The manager under pressure. 

‘We know how it ends,’ Gary Neville posted in the wake of a humbling defeat to a Newcastle A-team, and sadly we do.

Only, it doesn’t have to end this way. Ten Hag isn’t done yet and until the United hierarchy make the decision to dispense with a fifth manager since Sir Alex Ferguson retired there is still an opportunity for commonsense to prevail.

United’s catastrophic dip in form this season has been shocking in the extreme, no doubt about it. 

From progressing in Ten Hag’s first season they have lurched into reverse, almost without warning.

The most worrying thing about it is how impotent the manager looks as the wheels are falling off. Whatever Ten Hag seems to do at the moment is backfiring on him and his team.

We are hearing the familiar murmurings about players being unhappy and the dressing-room starting to doubt his tactics, and that is what you would expect in a situation like this.

Ten Hag (left) has made mistakes – and naturally there is talk about belief in the dressing room

We have seen it before and we are seeing it again now. 

Clearly there has been a breakdown in Ten Hag’s relationship with Jadon Sancho and that could be having a knock-on effect with other members of the squad.

Does he give Antony preferential treatment after paying £82m to sign the Brazilian from his old club Ajax, a deal that looks worse with every passing week? Possibly.

Is there something suspicious about Raphael Varane, a defender with a wealth of talent and experience, being left on the bench for the Manchester derby for tactical reasons and then missing the Newcastle match through illness? Yes.

But these are issues that exist at every football club and only really become relevant when it starts to go wrong. And, goodness knows, it has gone wrong at United often enough in recent years.

But you can only sack the manager so many times before you start to question the players and structure with which he is working.

Some suggest that in trying to change the culture at United and improve standards, Ten Hag has been met with resistance from players and people who have become too comfortable in their own positions.

But he can be the solution to a lot of United’s problems so long as the club hold their nerve

Ten Hag looks to be heading the same way as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who openly said that he was of the belief that Manchester United’s underperforming stars would get him the sack

Solskjaer used to wonder out loud that the players would get him sacked and eventually they did. Ten Hag is in danger of going the same way.

In Richard Arnold, he has a chief executive who came into the job wanting to take away some of that player power. Now is the moment to prove it.

Who knows? Arnold could be gone sooner rather than later if Sir Jim Ratcliffe acquires a degree of control over the running of the club. Change is coming, but that doesn’t necessarily have to include Ten Hag.

The problems at Old Trafford run far deeper than simply one man, even though the Dutchman has accepted his share of the blame for those problems. 

If United hold their nerve, Ten Hag can still be the solution.


It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify.

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