Updated:Feb 28, 2023 10:39 pm
From an inspiring second-half performance against Barcelona to clinching the Carabao Cup on Sunday, can life be any sweeter for Erik ten Hag’s Red Devils?
Currently third in the Premier League table, and this is already starting to look like a great first season for the Dutchman at Old Trafford.
In the Sir Alex Ferguson era, it was very rare to see Manchester United go through a whole season without winning a trophy, but under the leadership of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunner Solskjaer, and Ralf Rangnick, they could only collect three, which were the FA Cup and League Cup under van Gaal, and the Europa League under Mourinho in 2017.
Ronaldo Exit Blessing In Disguise?
When the Dutchman arrived at United, one of the first priorities was to deal with the main man, who at that time was Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo criticized United for doubting him for missing a training session, due to the health of his daughter. This led to a fallout between ten Hag and the Portuguese Captain and ultimately led to him leaving the Club.Embed from Getty Images
You just felt that there was a bit too much emphasis being put on Ronaldo, which was possibly one of the reasons for United’s poor start to the Ten Hag era.
Therefore, it seems as if Ronaldo not being there has made them start to play as a team rather than individually, and now you can see the likes of Anthony, Fred, Sancho, and in particular Marcus Rashford coming of age because of it.
“I think Rashford had a bit of a dip, because he wanted to be one of the main players of Man Utd, as he is. I think it’s not a surprise to me that you can see an improvement in him since Ronaldo is not there anymore. Rashford is not a centre-forward.
“As much as he wants to play as a No. 9, he’s getting into the middle, scoring headers, coming in from the wide positions and I think that’s already been settled, in terms of the position he plays.”John Barnes: Mirror
Goal Rush Rashford
Since the horrible penalty misses in the final of Euro 2020, it seems as if the moment has made the Manchester United centre-forward mentally stronger.Embed from Getty Images
24 goals in all competitions so far this season is a great start, considering United did not have a proper centre-forward until Wout Weghorst arrived on loan from Beşiktaş and Burnley. Since his arrival, the Dutchman has scored just one goal in 11 games in all competitions for the Red Devils this season.
This gives a clear indication that United are in need of an out-an-out goal scorer if they are going to challenge for the Premier League next season.
Whether Wghorst is that man is another matter to be discussed, but if United is going to challenge for the Premier League in future seasons, they need an out-and-out goal scorer who can get 30-40 goals a season, to take the pressure off the rest of the team, and this is the final piece of the puzzle for turning United into a successful team once again.
Calm CasemiroEmbed from Getty Images
Probably the most valuable signing is the former Real Madrid midfielder. Casemirio was not only brought in by ten Hag to strengthen midfield but also to bring that big match experience, and to control the game. At first, many people thought that this was probably a dicey buy because of his age, but has he proved the critics wrong, and become the spine of the team, can he continue to be the glue of United?
Good Start, But More Work Ahead
Next up for the Red Devils, is a tricky FA Cup fifth-round tie on Wednesday against West Ham United, before the meeting with fierce rivals Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday. Given the fact that ten Hag’s side is eight points off the top of the table, this seems a highly unlikely target to achieve, given the form of Arsenal and Manchester City.
Nevertheless, making sure of a place in next season’s Champions League and another trophy should be the main targets for Ten Hag and United this season.
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