United pin their hopes on going Dutch

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Erik ten Hag is favourite to become the next Manchester United manager. AFP Photo

Paul Kennedy

David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunner Solskaer, and Ralf Rangnick. Five Manchester United managers who, in the past 10 years, have all failed to fill the massive boots left by Sir Alex Ferguson.

Next to try out is Erik ten Hag who, according to reports from the UK, has agreed verbally to become the next boss at Old Trafford.

An announcement is likely next week, with ten Hag expected to start at the end of the season.

Ten Hag is the current manager of Ajax in the Netherlands, and although he has won two league titles and two cups with the team from Amsterdam, it’s not unreasonable to suggest he faces a much tougher challenge when he takes the reigns at United.

I read some commentators yesterday suggest he will need three years before he can make a change. I think that’s optimistic at best.

I’ve said it before, and not afraid to do so again, United are a mess from top to bottom. They have not won the league for ten years, and I can’t see them doing so in the next decade either.

Ten Hag’s first challenge is to sort out the dressing room. From the outside looking in, it seems downright toxic.

They have superstars for sure, but not a solid team. Ronaldo, Pogba, De Gea, Cavani, all great players. Rashford too, although he is slightly out of form.

But together, they are nothing. Disjointed and a shadow of their former selves, beaten at the weekend by an equally poor Everton team.

They will struggle to get into the top four this season, which means no Champions League cash cow, and once you fall out of Europe’s elite competition it’s difficult to get back in.

This season, they are also in danger of recording their worst ever Premier League points tally, showing once again the magnitude of the task they lies ahead for the 52-year-old Dutchman.

I’d like to offer hope, and suggest it could be a similar situation to when Jurgen Klopp arrived at Liverpool in 2015, but back then, and still today, Liverpool was a far better run club than United.

The right kind of investment has been made by Liverpool’s owners, showing others the path to be successful without breaking the bank.

I’ve also read suggestions that the current Manchester United squad are underwhelmed with the appointment of ten Hag. Well sorry, it’s not up to you.

Former United great Rio Ferdinand said he fears the Dutchman will be ‘chewed up and spat out’ by the players if he doesn’t introduce a whole new culture at Old Trafford.

Far more experienced managers have had that happen to them in the past. Just ask Jose.

If he is to succeed, and obviously from a Liverpool fan perspective I don’t want him too, but if he does, he absolutely must get a grip of the dressing room from day one.

And more importantly he needs backing from the board and a lot of patience from the supporters. VNS

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