Showing posts with label Richard Arnold. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Richard Arnold. Show all posts

Erik ten Hag presentation

Manchester United suffered their 12th loss in the last match of 2021-22 English Premier League season 0-1 to Crystal Palace and finished with lowest points tally in EPL history with just 58 points that is 35 points adrift of the champions City. Goal difference was a perfect naught with only 57 goals scored thanks mainly to Cristiano Ronaldo's 18 and conceded as high as 57 goals placing the club 12th in goals against. United lost 5 of their last 8 matches ceding 16 goals as Ralf Rangnick era quaked to a meltdown due to player's apathy. Sensing the urgency of the situation Erik ten Hag rightly decided to advance his joining date, got his two assistants on board - Mitchell van der Gaag and Steve McClaren, and even attended the Palace game in London. The Dutchman formally took charge the very next day on 23rd May after the final matchday and was presented to the media.

Erik ten Hag sounded confident and methodical in his explanation having won his 3rd Eredivisie title in 4 years with Ajax Amstredam. On next steps he said "What we are now doing is first constructing the staff, constructing the squad and constructing a good plan. First it's the pre-season plan that we are now working on." His remit from the club was clear "They have to set conditions and I have to work with my squad to achieve success." and demands from a big club like Manchester United "We want to win every game, so we go from game to game and then we will see." with some big name players "But it is always players who dictate the way of play. I have the ideal, I will line up my best team, and I will line up my players like that to get the best out of them."

He simply had to sound ebullient when asked if the dominance of Klopp-Guardiola can come to an end before they leave? "I think, yes." After the worst season in 30 years the fans hope the only way is up and he echoed that "Although it is a fantastic history, the reason is there is a high potential for the future. That's why I am here." Most stinging criticism came from the first Dutch manager of Manchester United Louis van Gaal when he branded it as "commercial club" and hoped ETH will not join them. ETH naturally rejected that "I draw my own line and I’m convinced that is not the case. I spoke to the directors about it and football is one, two, three these days. Every club these days is commercial. Every club needs it. To be successful you need to do what is necessary, but football is one, two three in this club.”

Most important information that came out was his sharp dismissal of Ralf Rangnick's consultancy role and he simply cut the answer short "That is on the club." and refused to elaborate any further. Days later first it was Rangnick after being unveiled as Austria manager announced that he will end his role at United. "We have come to the conclusion that it is better for me and the club to concentrate fully on the Austrian national team. I cancelled the consultancy contract." Rangnick didn't salvage the situation at United rather added fuel to the fire with claims of board not backing him to recruit a striker in January after Mason Greenwood was ruled out. Fans do thank him for exposing the club but that situation cannot continue for long without becoming untenable. 

ETH distanced himself from Rangnick's conclusion of the club needing upto 10 new players after 0-9 thrashing over two legs by their biggest domestic rivals Liverpool, by harking back to era under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer "I am still in the process of analysing...The season before, this squad was second in the league, so there is huge potential." This perhaps gives a clue that despite United losing 6 experienced players whose contract expire this summer and central midfield positions still vacant that there will not be any wholesale changes but rather a evolution in squad. This dampened the spirits of many leading broadsheets who gave a pessimistic reading of ETH presentation. The Telegraph opined "New Manchester United manager deserves time to prove he won't be remembered as Erik Ten Months" while The Times were more considerate "Straight-talking Erik ten Hag will take no nonsense at Manchester United."

ETH has started work 5-weeks early compared to David Moyes who consequently failed to add any significant players to the ageing squad that had won the league in previous season. ETH is bringing in a known hand in Steve McClaren while Moyes failed to persuade Rene Muelensteen to stay while disbanding rest of Sir Alex Ferguson's formidable backroom staff. Richard Arnold and John Murtough have a new setup taking shape after a string of departures in Jim Lawlor the chief scout, Marcel Bout head of global scouting, Matt Judge director of football negotiations, Hemen Tseayo chief strategy officer and Ed Woodward the chief executive. This can be a boon for ETH to push through his requests or a bane if the new hierarchy cannot deliver the transfers in time for the pre-season - a deadline crucial for the new manager. Manchester United appointed Andy O'Boyle as Deputy Director of Football reporting to John Murtough, and like Murtough himself O'Boyle joins from Premier League's head of elite performance. This puts an end to the rumours of links with Paul Mitchell who has signed on for another season at AS Monaco or Luis Campos who has joined Paris St Germain.

Best piece of advise came from the gaffer Sir Alex Ferguson "Well, I hope he does well because the club needs someone to get in control. I hope he does well, yeah." No Dutch manager has won the English Premier League title yet(Guus Hiddink, Louis van Gaal, Dick Advocaat, Martin Jol, Ruud Gulit, Ronald Koeman, Rene Muelensteen, Frank de Boer) and that's a stiff challenge for ETH in itself. David Moyes flew to Thailand for pre-season so will ETH in July but hope history does not repeat itself any further.

Paul Mitchell or relegation battle next season

With upto six players coming to end of their contracts at Manchester United who already have an unfilled vacancy in central midfield since departures of Ander Herrera and Marouanne Fellaini three years ago, the club has a monumental task ahead in the summer transfer window as Ralf Rangnick put it "for me, it is clear there will be six, seven, eight, maybe ten new players" following a 0-9 aggregate thrashing at the hands of their biggest rivals Liverpool. With the scale of the rebuild and a limited funding of about 150 million nett the task of getting the right players is difficult as it is; it is further compounded by the fact that United have a duboius record under Ed Woodward and Matt Judge to take forever to conclude negotiations while paying over the odds for the wrong players!

Richard Arnold will want to demonstrate how he tends to operate differently than his beleaguered predecessor and thus the appointment of Erik ten Hag, an upcoming manager who has steadily won laurels at Ajax. A new position was also created under John Murtough for Deputy Director of Football. Ralf Rangnick worked closely with Paul Mitchell at the Red Bull group and both were spotted at FA Youth Cup match in February. The Manchester born recruitment specialist would be an ideal candidate based on his brilliant eye for talent while at Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Red Bull group and now AS Monaco. Mitchell was also synonymous with the rise of Mauricio Pochettino at Southampton and Tottenham but reportedly fell off with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy and had to leave. With AS Monaco losing to Braga in round of 16 in Europa Cup and presently in 4th place in Ligue 1 six points off 2nd place amid managerial churn, time is perhaps right for Mitchell to move to new destination after a two year stint at the principality.

United have lost four straight away matches to Man City, Everton, Liverpool and Arsenal. Last time this happened was in 1980-81 when United finished eight. United have lost 10 matches this season and conceded 51 goals already. Loss to Liverpool was the worst match in Premier League history. If it were not for Cristiano Ronaldo and David de Gea, United would be battling relegation. Board having sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and appointing an interim manager thus writing off the whole season, demolished the morale of the squad. With impending player exodus the chances of 'Too good to go down' might repeat in 2022-23 just a year before the golden jubilee of last relegation in 1973-74. Reports of conflict between British and Iberian/South American players must be firmly dealth with. Everton part of original top 4 clubs of league football in England are now facing relegation, United must wake-up now. Not only have City and Liverpool marched on while Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham are re-grouping but likes of Wolves, West Ham, Leicester, Brighton, Brentford, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace have sound structures to enable high performance. 

More than anything the character of the players will be paramount. Sir Alex Ferguson brought Viv Anderson, Brian McClair and Steve Bruce and fixed the centre-back issue to build a firm foundation that got better after Gary Pallister added pace to handle counter-attacks. United must rally around a new captain in Bruno Fernandes ably guided by veterans Cristiano Ronaldo and David de Gea as the current skipper Harry Maguire has had a torrid time while being unispiring. Mason Greenwood is likely to miss another season, Edinson Cavani is leaving, Martial and Rashford are not number 9's which makes an emergency signing of a forward mandatory. If team takes time to adapt to different type of gameplay under Erik ten Hag, they must have an option to switch to more direct form in the last 20-30 minutes to salvage crucial points. United were relegated due to lack fit and proper strikers in 1973-74 campaign! Return of James Garner from an excellent spell at Forest has raised expectations. United cannot introduce young players from the team that has reached the FA Youth Cup final without proper protection from senior players like how 'Captain Marvel' Bryan Robson switched to left wing to take care of opposing right-back who was giving young Ryan Giggs a tough time.

United certainly cannot spend 150 million on one player like Declan Rice or proven leaders like Harry Kane and Conor Coady as it seems very difficult to raise significant funds from selling players. United need two defensive midfielders, one centre-forward, one centre-back for a start. Hypothetically it is likely to be 40m for Ruben Neves, 50m for Yves Bissouma, 75m for Darwin Nunez, 35m for Jurrien Timber will top 200m. But an expert like Paul Mitchell can tweak this from his extensive contacts especially from Red Bull group players like Amadou Haidara(ligament injury), Konrad Laimer, Josko Gvardiol, Willi Orban, Marcel Halstenberg, Christopher Nkunku, Rasmus Kristensen et al and from his existing employers AS Monaco the likes of Aurelian Tchouameni, Benoit Badiashile, and others throughout Europe to transform the squad in couple of seasons itself. Getting Paul Mitchell will strengthen Ralf Rangnick's stature who is to become a consultant after this season and the board must not bring politics into play to handicap the club instead of being an enabler. Mitchell is likely to weigh up the takeover scenario at Chelsea who will play in the Champions' League next season unlike United before deciding.

United have been poor at letting players go and the plan of Ed Woodward to load non-starting players at high salary to extract good transfer fee has backfired spectacularly. Club will have to generate minimum of 50m by selling Dean Henderson, Eric Bailly, Anthoy Martial. Instead of Phil Jones club can groom Axle Tuanzebe or Teden Mengi. Luis Campos who is not associated with any club since leaving Lille in late 2020 is an formidable alternative to Paul Mitchell as are Brentford duo Phil Giles and Rasmus Ankersen. Campos performed the ultimate miracle by helping AS Monaco and Lille to win the French Ligue 1 as underdogs against oil rich Paris Saint-Germain. United were beaten by another United in Newcastle to the signing of technical director Dan Ashworth who has left Brighton and Hove Albion. What if United had football people at decision making levels to back Jose Moruinho over players with social media power, hired Luis Campos and signed one quality centre-back in summer of 2018. This summer is another such momentus occasion where fans want Manchester United to be run as a football club and not just a commercial brand.

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