Erik ten Hag’s Man Utd reign already off to a rocky start because of three players

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Erik ten Hag has been talking a good talk since being named Manchester United manager, making it clear his current focus is on Ajax. But there’s no escaping that his reign will begin in turbulent fashion due to the likes of Edinson Cavani, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard. The Red Devils have a big summer on their hands as they look to reel in Manchester City and Liverpool and end their rivals’ dominance of the Premier League.

Ten Hag was confirmed as United’s new manager last month, just days after the Red Devils had been comprehensively outplayed by Liverpool during a 4-0 defeat at Anfield.

But, in the space of mere weeks, the Dutchman already has issues on his hands.

Since Ten Hag’s appointment, Lingard has been in the spotlight.

The Dutchman wants to talk to the England international however, unfortunately, the 29-year-old has already decided he wants to pursue a new challenge.

That’s a blow to Ten Hag, who could have utilised Lingard’s superb footballing brain over at Old Trafford.

Instead, a parting of the ways is on the cards.

United told Lingard’s camp earlier in the season that he wasn’t a starter but, despite that, denied him moves to the likes of West Ham, Tottenham and Newcastle in January.

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It means his exit is far bitter than it should have been, with the 29-year-old unhappy at the way Rangnick and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have both treated him.

Ten Hag, it seems, will be denied the chance to get his way with Lingard – who appears to be leaning towards a summer switch to Tyneside.

Then, there’s Cavani.

It’s been known for months that the Uruguay international is eager to leave, having struggled for form and fitness over the course of the campaign.

But Cavani interestingly revealed in midweek that the summer return of Cristiano Ronaldo had made his mind up for him.

“At the moment it was done, I thought it was a good thing for Manchester to sign Cristiano,” Cavani told ESPN Brasil.

“Knowing a bit about the world of football these days, the first thing I did was call my [brother and manager Walter Fernando Guglielmone] and said: ‘Fernando, if this had happened a week ago, I would ask you to find me another club.’


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“But not because I didn’t want to play with Cristiano Ronaldo. No.

“Because I had the opportunity to know him, and he is a great professional, with his targets, and that is perfect for a sportsman.

“But as I know, after years in football, how things work these days. That’s why I spoke to my brother.

“It was more about understanding the situation. Not because I couldn’t play in my role at Manchester, but because there are many things in football nowadays that are different from how they were with other people, how it was before, years ago.

“And since it happened suddenly, I felt nothing. I thought: ‘We’ll play, do the best we can.’”

Cavani’s comments suggest that Ronaldo’s arrival in the summer may have had an adverse affect on other players.

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The Uruguay international isn’t the only star to have been forced to play second fiddle to the Portugal international this term.

Anthony Martial was hopeful of being their first-choice striker yet, when Ronaldo came home, suddenly was a peripheral figure.

And while Mason Greenwood sparkled down the middle during the early embers of the campaign, he was forced out to the wing when Ronaldo re-signed.

Cavani’s comments mean Ten Hag will have to make sure he finds out which players have taken issue with Ronaldo’s homecoming.

And that could even shape his final decision when it comes to keeping, or offloading, the 37-year-old.

After Cavani and Lingard, there’s now the matter of Pogba’s future to contend with as well.

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Ten Hag wants talks with the France international, as he does with every other player he’s inheriting at Old Trafford.

But, now, he may have to deal with one of the most bitter exits in the club’s entire history.

Pogba is wanted by Manchester City and, what’s more, is open to crossing the divide and playing for Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium.

And that will give Ten Hag an unwanted issue to deal with should a move across Manchester materialise.

United have so many things they need to change this summer.

So the problems Lingard, Cavani and Pogba are involved in as the summer transfer window nears could leave Ten Hag with even more work to do.

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