Since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, Manchester United have spent almost a decade in finding the perfect replacement for the legendary Scottish manager. While Jose Mourinho came close to becoming that man, internal issues neutralised such a possibility.
After years of searching, it seems like The Red Devils have finally got their SAF replacement. Erik Ten Hag has made a massive impact in his debut season at Manchester United. As he took a confused and lost team by the helm, there were many doubts if he could be the man to help United progress from their dilapidated position. And he has indeed proved his doubters wrong.
He has made United fans believe. Old Trafford is again a fortress for The Reds. From a side struggling to qualify for Europa League to becoming the title challengers, Erik Ten Hag has been the master architect.
United closed the gap to league leaders Arsenal by 5 points as they stormed Leicester City and marched to an emphatic 3-0 victory. Even at Barcelona, there was little chance that United could muster a considerable performance, they put up an equal fight at the Camp Nou and came away with a favourable result.
Manchester United legend Gary Neville has hailed the Dutch manager in his Gary Neville Podcast. The pundit complimented Ten Hag for making the most of the team which previous managers failed to do so.
"“This manager does seem to have something different at this moment in time. He’s getting a lot more out of the squad than I would expect”‘If you’d said to me that Manchester United a year ago with Ralf Rangnick as manager, would be playing today with Marcus Rashford up front with Wout Weghorst and Garnacho, I’d be saying: “we’re in a bit of trouble here”."
Neville applauded the Dutchman’s tactics and the belief that he instilled among the players who at some point lost all the self-confidence they had.
"‘If you’d said that Martial would still be holding the line up front, Lindelof, Wan-Bissaka, Fred, McTominay, all these players, they’re still here. A lot of the same players that populated the last few seasons are still populating this squad, but it does feel like this manager is getting a lot out of them."
The former Manchester United stalwart has said that Ten Hag has been ‘over-achieving’ everything since he took over and the fans are lucky to have him as the man leading.
"Because he’s overperforming and out-achieving anything that I could imagine at this moment in time. But let’s say they spent £300m in the summer on 3-4 world-class players, that expectation would rise from thinking “we’re in the Carabao Cup final, we now want to be challenging for the title”. So that’s the next step that’s coming, but for now it’s really, really good."
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Quotes are from the The Daily Mail