Erik ten Hag has fulfilled his cruel pledge, but Manchester United has failed him.

Erik ten Hag has fulfilled his cruel pledge, but Manchester United has failed him.

Erik ten Hag’s arrival brought about the prophesied revolution.

It was not a simple undertaking. On a sunny May day in London in 2022, the new Manchester United manager watched from the stands as his new club’s season concluded with a 1-0 loss against Crystal Palace. It was a fitting conclusion to the club’s worst Premier League season ever.

Ten Hag was tasked with transforming a group of disorganized, ill-disciplined, and low-confidence players into a cohesive, performing unit, which he accomplished. United returned to the Champions League and halted their trophy drought despite encountering significant obstacles.

You couldn’t ask for much more from a rookie season, but with success comes elevated expectations, and Ten Hag has much loftier goals for his sophomore year. Beginning the first week, these objectives will be difficult to achieve.
The first two contests have been humiliating. They were outclassed by Wolves, who had replaced their manager five days prior, and were extremely fortunate to come away with a victory. After an optimistic summer, it hardly felt like one, and the atmosphere was low. The following week, they were routed by Tottenham, a team that had just lost Harry Kane but appeared to know what they were doing under their new manager.

Ten Hag has been there for more than a year, but his team is incomplete. The midfield formation he attempted to implement with Mason Mount has failed, and he is forced to play Marcus Rashford in a position for which he is ill-suited because new signing Rasmus Hojlund is injured.

As was the case a year ago, a crushing defeat in London prompted Manchester United to attempt to bolster their roster. However, unlike last year, when Casemiro was acquired, United will struggle to invest this time around. According to United sources, the Premier League’s profitability and sustainability regulations restrict the club’s ability to increase expenditure.

United have been terrible at selling players for years due to the fact that they have given lucrative contracts to players who did not deserve them, who then understandably refuse to give up their enormous salaries. They have been unable to raise adequate funds from their most liquid assets, which is now coming back to harm them.

United lowered their asking price for Harry Maguire to £30 million, but the central defender refused to accept a pay cut to join West Ham and is now expected to remain. Dean Henderson remains at the club despite wanting to leave. Nottingham Forest were concerned about his quadriceps injury, but Crystal Palace could still make a late bid.

Eric Bailly, Donny van de Beek, Antony Martial, and Brandon Williams were also targeted for sales, but they remain at Old Trafford for the time being. Scott McTominay is another player who could have commanded a high price, but midfield injuries have rendered his departure unlikely.
Ten Hag has fulfilled his contractual obligations. He has been ruthless with the team, and those players who have remained since he took over have been removed from the starting lineup.

Eight of the twenty players who participated in Rangnick’s final game in charge have since departed, three are young players who will likely be loaned out, two are no longer regular starters, four remain squad options, and only three – Bruno Fernandes, Raphael Varane, and Alejandro Garnacho – are Ten Hag’s most important players.

That is an extraordinary rate of change in such a brief period of time. The team is unrecognisable from that dismal season due to Ten Hag’s extraordinary efforts. However, United has let him down by not being ruthless enough and by not eliminating deadwood sooner.

With only one week remaining in the transfer window and the need for significant squad reinforcements, United may not be able to acquire them.

Erik ten Hag has fulfilled his cruel pledge, but Manchester United has failed him.