The issues Erik ten Hag must resolve at Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo looms large over Old Trafford and the likes of Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard are out of contract this summer.

By Press Association Published: 21 April 2022 - 10.16am

Erik ten Hag has been appointed as the new manager of Manchester United from next season.

The 52-year-old spent over four successful years at Ajax but faces a huge task turning around United’s fortunes.

Here, the PA news agency sifts through Ten Hag’s in-tray at Old Trafford.

Change the culture

Leeds United v Manchester United – Premier League – Elland Road
Manchester United’s culture has been criticised as the players have developed a losing habit (Mike Egerton/PA)

Ten Hag is known for his excellent man-management skills and that is just as well with what awaits him at Old Trafford.

Players have thrown successive managers under the bus rather than accept accountability for their performances.

The perception has been that these players are more interested in piling up likes on social media than points on the pitch, and Ten Hag must change that dressing-room culture and turn a group of individuals into a proper team.

Address Ronaldo future

Manchester United v Atletico Madrid – UEFA Champions League – Round of Sixteen – Second Leg – Old Trafford
Cristiano Ronaldo has cut a frustrated figure in recent months at Manchester United (Martin Rickett/PA)

There is no getting away from it – the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo looms large over Old Trafford.

Ronaldo’s return in August from under the noses of Manchester City was hailed as a huge coup. One of the greatest ever to play the game was back ‘home’ to lift standards.

Ronaldo has scored 21 goals in his second coming, but his frustration has risen as performance levels have plunged. The Portuguese’s ageing legs could be something Ten Hag can live without.

Start the clear out

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur – Premier League – Old Trafford
France midfielder Paul Pogba is out of contract at Manchester United this summer (Martin Rickett/PA)

Time is up for a lot of this United squad and Ten Hag needs to show a ruthless streak straight away.

Paul Pogba’s future has been a topic of conversation since the World Cup winner returned in 2016 and the France midfielder is among a handful of players whose contracts expire this summer.

Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata are in the same boat and question marks remain over the futures of Anthony Martial, Eric Bailly, Donny Van De Beek and Phil Jones.

Get recruitment right

Ruben Neves file photo
Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves is rumoured to be a top target for new Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag (Bradley Collyer/PA)

It could actually be a good time for Ten Hag to take over if he can clear the decks and sign new blood. Recruitment has been nothing short of a disaster since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

United have recorded a £900million net spend over the past 10 seasons with very little to show for it. Ten Hag will need cash to find resolute defenders, creative midfielders and speedy strikers.

Wolves playmaker Ruben Neves and Ajax defender Jurrien Timber are reported targets, but persuading top players to join a club potentially without Champions League football may be difficult.

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