Coming into the current season, Manchester United fans have been humbled to lower their expectations after a disastrous 2021/2022 season.
The season culminated in the appointment of three coaches, the last of which is more renowned as a sporting director rather than a coach. Manchester United fans’ expectation for their team coming into the 2022/2023 season was a top four finish. Fans had learned to lower their expectations with reality.
Erik ten Hag rose to prominence with his Ajax team in the Champions League of 2019/2020. They played dominant, attractive football and defeated European giants like Juventus and Real Madrid on their way to a painful semi-final exit at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur. Ironically, he and Mauricio Pochettino (who was the coach of Tottenham at the time) were front runners for the Man United job.
The Defining Moment for Erik ten Hag
The first impact of the ten Hag reign at Man United was to instill discipline in the squad. Players quickly became aware of the new sheriff in town, who does not tolerate complacency.
Players were no longer permitted to arrive late for team meetings or training. They were to sit together for meals, and there was no room for complacency on and off the pitch.
ten Hag’s footprints became evident from the start. Even after a heavy defeat to Brentford, United bounced back later on in the League Cup and added their first piece of silverware in six years.
Proper recruitment is an area Man United have struggled in since the retirement of the great Sir Alex Ferguson. Players were bought more for their marketing ability rather than being the right fit for the team.
ten hag’s clear football philosophy helped recruit the right players to fit his style and bring balance to the team. Additionally, he had a massive influence on the profile of players that were bought.
Back-to-back defeats in the first two Premier League games pointed out the challenge ten Hag was facing. Rather impressively, he handled the defeats and it became a season-defining moment for the Red Devils. ten hag implemented two different ideas after the slow start to the season.
Brentford outran Man United by 13.8 km in their second defeat of the season. In the training session after the defeat, ten Hag made his players run 13.8 km. ten Hag ran the 13.8 km with his players, and that sent a strong message to the squad.
In those first two games, ten Hag used the same starting 11 from the previous season. That proved counterproductive and in subsequent matches, he changed the lineup. Those changes saw a run that included wins against Arsenal and Liverpool. The team kept growing in confidence and belief, with each passing game resulting in wins.
United supporters initially saw finishing in the top four as the primary target for this season. But going into the tail end of the season, Erik ten Hag has successfully shot up the belief of the Red Devil fanbase.
Man United are the only team in the Premier League still competing in all three possible competitions. They won the League Cup and are in the quarter-finals of the Europa League, the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, and third in the Premier League.
Erik ten Hag has made Manchester United fans dream again. The supporters believe that the glory days may be back under ten Hag.