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Erik ten Hag started his job at United six weeks earlier than expected to get a first-hand look at some of the squad members he’ll be working with day-in-day-out. Image Credit: Supplied

Manchester United’s worst season in 30 years of the Premier League ended with a whimper as they fell to Crystal Palace on the final day losing 1-0 away from home. Thanks to West Ham’s defeat against Brighton, United managed to sneak into the Europa League and it feels like an undeserved bonus after they lost their last six away games.

“I think this team could do with more cohesion. There could be more togetherness on the pitch,” interim boss Ralf Rangnick said after the loss at Selhurst Park. Rangnick wanted to bring a high-octane game to Old Trafford when he replaced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November but was unable to find a successful Plan B when it became clear the current squad weren’t suited to that.

Frank assessment

An enormous rebuilding job now falls on the newly appointed manager Erik ten Hag, who reportedly left United’s bosses stunned with his frank assessment of the Old Trafford club’s problems during his interview. The Dutchman was critical of United’s scouting and recruitment policy after an outlay of £1 billion since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 with little to show for it.

Fans would be hoping the Dutchman will make immediate decisions on which players to keep and which to sell, with Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, all out of contract this summer and Juan Mata and Edinson Cavani already saying goodbye to the fans. Ten Hag will be keen to offload some of the fringe players and bring in his own players and securing Champions League football needs to be the target in his first season before building on from there.

Rashford has not had a stable run of years with a manager and would not like to remember this season’s inconsistent performances. Ten Hag will be able to exploit the talent he has inside of him. On the other hand, Jadon Sancho has been very inconsistent since his debut for the Red Devils in 2021 and the same can be expected from him.

Ten Hag has confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo will be a part of his plans next season, saying that he expects goals from the Manchester United superstar. In all honesty it would be a huge luxury if United are able to keep hold of him. A huge task will be on how the to keep Ronaldo happy without Champions League football as he is the leading goalscorer in the tournament.

Style of play

United will hope Ten Hag will change the team’s style of play. A common belief by every United fan is that the team has not had a set way of playing since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer they saw a glimpse of counter-attacking football and the same will be expected from Ten Hag to dominate matches against lower opposition to ensure United can control games far better than they’ve done in recent times.

Ten Hag’s experience in the transfer market with Ajax is an encouraging factor for United fans. Despite the exit of stars such as Hakim Ziyech, Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong following their Champions League success, Ten Hag has successfully maintained the club as a force in Dutch football with smart signings.

Last but not least, the United fans will expect Ten Hag, who delivered two league and cup doubles at Ajax, to end a five-year trophy drought at Old Trafford after another hugely disappointing campaign.