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First Team

Hot Off The Press: Manchester United

Tom McDermott previews our trip to Old Trafford

1 May 2022

Manchester United are sixth in the Premier League table, five points outside the top four with four games to play. What have you made of what you have seen over the course of the past few months?

I think Ralf Rangnick has been a poor coach, but a fantastic adviser to those that are higher up the chain. By this, I mean the information he has gathered about the club, culture and players, that he has passed on. It is also meant that he has been able to recommend a way forward for the club both on and off the field – starting with the appointment of Erik ten Hag. On the field it has been a huge disappointment. United have let their fans down and while on paper there has been a good chance of qualifying for the Champions League, the players look like they checked out shortly after the 0-0 draw at home to Watford in February.

Last week, Erik Ten Hag was announced as the new manager of the club and he is set to take over from Ralf Rangnick at the end of the current campaign. It seems as though he will have his work cut out to change things at Old Trafford this summer, doesn’t it?

What happens on the pitch is almost secondary. He has to get his recruitment spot on, and with that, improve the culture. Only then will we see a United side that can start performing well, but more importantly play an attractive brand of attacking football. The job of Manchester United manager is so much more than simply what happens on the pitch. The fans are very optimistic and hope he can have a similar impact to the one Jurgen Klopp has at Liverpool. We know though that for every Klopp, there’s an André Villas-Boas.

When you spoke to us earlier in the year, you said that Champions League football is “absolutely critical” for the club next season. With the continued scrutiny the club is likely to be under, do you think missing out on Europe altogether might have any benefit, as has perhaps been the case with Arsenal this term?

Yes and no. It might mean that United, because of their lack of Champions League football, might not feel the need to go for superstars like Angel di Maria, Bastian Schweinsteiger and so on. United need younger, hungrier players, that are prepared to develop, give themselves time and hopefully over the next two to three years, make United competitive again. While the Glazer family will undoubtedly miss the riches Champions League nights bring, it might not be a bad thing for ten Hag and his side to take one step backwards before two steps forward. The Euorpa League is less pressured and assuming United are in that competition, ten Hag will get to experiment more, allow the new signings to get up to speed with what playing for United is like, and perhaps play one or two of the youngsters.

Which player should Brentford fans be keeping an eye on on Monday night?

It has to be the story and player of the season doesn’t it? Christian Eriksen. He’s not only returned but showed his class on and off the pitch. Can we have him next season please?

How is Rangnick likely to set up his side for the visit of the Bees?

He likes a 4-2-2-2 but there’s been signs in recent weeks that he’s tried to introduce more width. United lack tempo in the final third and if you can keep Ronaldo quiet, you’ve got a chance.

United took all three points from the last meeting, winning 3-1 back in mid-January. What’s your score prediction this time around?

I think we’ll see an entertaining pre-season type 2-2 draw. 


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