Manchester United Can’t Ask Erik ten Hag For More Miracles


Athletic’s Laurie Whitwell suggested Manchester United could learn from Arsenal after yesterday’s 3-2 defeat at the Emirates Stadium.

In his article, he claims that Mikel Arteta is a role model in his transformation of players who were previously written off, referring to Eddie Nketiah as one of such players after his double against the Red Devils.

Whitwell believes that “the players have room for growth to achieve the results that Arsenal are producing, and while he does point to Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford as players that Erik ten Hag has improved, he oddly stops before acknowledging the extent of the Dutchman’s influence on the players.”, which was completely written off under the previous modes.

Diogo Dalot has gone from one of the leaders of the list of all United fans who should be sold, to the player who did not allow Joao Cancelu to get into the starting line-up of the Portuguese national team at the World Cup.

Fred has gone from an unbalanced good starter in a week-on-the-next to a skillfully used effective member of the team.

Anthony Martial, when he was in good shape, no matter how rare he was, returned after a terrible loan period to become a player full of self-confidence.

Even David de Gea looked good at times, in possession of the ball, and at the same time regained some of his excellent shot-deflecting abilities.

Moreover, Rashford’s improvement seems somewhat underestimated by Whitwell. The England player looked to have finished last season and is now showing the best football of his career.

Ten Hag even managed to get a good series of games from Aaron Van Bissaki before his old habits made themselves felt at the Emirates yesterday.

And this is a big part of the problem with the expectation that Ten Hag will find internal solutions to problems in the current United squad. While there were many players with whom he managed to work wonders, some players just never seem to learn.

Van-Bissaka has been a senior professional defender for seven years and still does not know how to defend the back post. It’s simply impossible for a chain of coaches not to notice this mistake, and yet here he is, a 25-year-old Premier League defender who cannot be trusted to guard the post — ever.

Scott McTominay is another player who has shown signs of improvement under Ten Hag, but he is still often unable to make a pass in or out of possession. The fact that he did not notice the pressure exerted by Luke Shaw when Bukayo Saka, Martin Edegore and Ben White overloaded United’s left flank helped the bright young Arsenal winger to gain freedom on the pitch.

Some players can certainly be improved through coaching, and certain solutions can be found internally, but at a certain point you have to ask some players: will they ever learn?

Whitwell cites possible pressure from UEFA’s financial fair play rules as a factor that could force Ten Hag to look inside himself to solve problems on the pitch, and while this may be a factor, it is hoped that the club’s financial situation will improve somewhat if new investments – or, God willing, new owners – will be found.

The speed with which the former Ajax boss has raised the level at Manchester United cannot be underestimated. Arteta gets a lot of plaudits for his team’s performance this season, and rightly so, but Arsenal had to suffer from 8th place in a row before finishing 5th last season to get to this stage.

United do not look like they will have to spend so much time in the wilderness under the leadership of Erik ten Hag, although there is a limit on the number of miracles that one person can be asked to perform.


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