Glazers sell, DON’T make Erik ten Hag the fall guy and get Alejandro Garnacho in… how to fix Man United crisis

Glazers sell, DON’T make Erik ten Hag the fall guy and get Alejandro Garnacho in… how to fix Man United crisis

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It has been a grim start to the season – the club’s worst since 1989 – for manager Erik ten Hag with dire performances on the pitch and numerous issues off it. So how do you fix Manchester United?

Here, talkSPORT looks at five solutions, starting with the proposed takeover, something which has been dragging on for nearly a year.

Despite the vast difference in finances, Brighton stunned Man United on their own turf

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Despite the vast difference in finances, Brighton stunned Man United on their own turfCredit: Getty

Sell the club

The most damning aspect of Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at home to Brighton, who named a starting XI that cost less than £17m in transfer fees, is that nobody was in the least bit surprised. In fact, it would have been more of a shock if United had won!

The former champions have been dubbed a crisis club after a chaotic start to the season, but the biggest single issue remains Joel and Avram Glazer’s continued stalling over selling their shares.

United fans rejoiced when the Brothers Grim announced during the World Cup in November that they were open to investment or even a complete sale of the club. Finally, it appeared the parasitical regime, that has used their ownership as no more than a means to line their own pockets while racking up colossal debts of hundreds of millions of pounds, were on their bikes.

Alas, ten months later and still United are under Glazer rule, with both the Qatari consortium and boyhood United fan Sir Jim Ratcliffe left in limbo over their respective takeover offers.

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That uncertainty and lack of leadership right at the top of the food chain has undoubtedly affected all areas of the club with Ten Hag and chief executive Richard Arnold left to put fire after fire.

United’s handling of the Mason Greenwood affair was simply shocking, but hardly a surprise after the owners washed their hands of any responsibility and left it to the much-maligned Arnold to decide Greenwood’s fate and deal with any backlash that came the club’s way.

talkSPORT’s Simon Jordan is fond of using the phrase ‘best in class’ when discussing boardroom decisions. With numerous costly and questionable recruitment calls over the past decade, a stadium that was once the pride of the land now falling into disrepair and a tired training facility, the Glazers inherited a five-star hotel and have turned into a rickety B’n’B.

Many in Old Trafford turned on the club, but backing the manager makes sense

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Many in Old Trafford turned on the club, but backing the manager makes sense

‘Stand by your manager’

It was on a rain-soaked afternoon at Old Trafford in May 2013 that Sir Alex Ferguson addressed the crowd with this infamous rallying cry in a less than subtle attempt to encourage them to throw their backing behind his hand-picked successor David Moyes.

United, having already been crowned champions for a 20th time, had just beaten Swansea 2-1 in Ferguson’s last home game in charge, but his message fell on deaf ears and Moyes’ reign lasted just ten months before being sacked.

Jose Mourinho, Louis van Gaal and club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have all tried and failed to follow in Ferguson’s illustrious footsteps and win the title again, while the short-lived tenure of ‘Wreck-It’ Ralf Ragnick was nothing short of a disaster.

Given the success Arsenal have enjoyed by ignoring calls from fans to sack Mikel Arteta, you do wonder if United would have been better off simply sticking by Moyes as Fergie implored. Surely by doing so it would not have turned out any worse than it has during the intervening decade-long malaise.

Like many of his predecessors Ten Hag enjoyed an initial honeymoon period by leading United to EFL Cup success last season as well as reestablishing them in the top four and guiding them to an FA Cup final.

Success was delivered in Ten Hag's first season when they won the Carabao Cup then reached the FA Cup final and qualified for the Champions League

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Success was delivered in Ten Hag’s first season when they won the Carabao Cup then reached the FA Cup final and qualified for the Champions LeagueCredit: Getty

After losing three of the opening five games for the first time in the Premier League era, that honeymoon has come to an abrupt end, leading to non-United fans and pundits turning up the heat on Ten Hag. Many who previously applauded his iron-fist rule now using it as stick to beat him with in the wake of the Jadon Sancho spat, even though Sancho has previous when it comes to not being a model professional.

Crucially, the majority of United supporters, particularly the Old Trafford regulars are ‘standing by their manager’.

History has proven the problems at this once proud club run much deeper than the man in the dugout. Sacking another boss and tearing up all the building blocks Ten Hag has put in place to try and change what he has labelled a ‘no-good culture’, especially after handing him control of recruitment, would bring about more pain than gain.

Get Rasmus Hojlund fit and firing

It has been hard to take too many positives from United’s sorry start to the season, but the early promise shown by the new incumbent of the iconic number 11 jersey is something for fans to cling onto.

Hojlund will become a key part of the attack and sky is the limit when he's fully fit

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Hojlund will become a key part of the attack and sky is the limit when he’s fully fitCredit: Getty

While £72m for a 20-year-old with a modest goalscoring record to his name raised eyebrows – particularly given links to his manager’s agent – Hojlund’s brief cameo in the defeat at Arsenal when he showed immediately he was up for the physical challenge of the Premier League. His disallowed goal against Brighton is also evidence he could quickly become a key man.

The boos that greeted his substitution at the weekend were both audible and a reflection that United supporters have already taken the big Dane to the hearts.

The reality is that by the time he made way, Hojlund looked like he had run his race and, that as a result of his lack of match sharpness, Brighton’s uncompromising captain Lewis Dunk had his measure.

The aim now has to be to get the young player fully up to speed because, let’s be honest, who else do United have to lead their line? If Anthony Martial is the answer then the question is a painful listen.

Find the right midfield shape

This area of the team has been a cause for concern right from the first minute of the opening game of the season against Wolves when United were extremely fortunate to win.

Finding the right balance in midfield is going to be crucial to any future success

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Finding the right balance in midfield is going to be crucial to any future successCredit: Getty

In trying to play both summer signing Mason Mount and captain Bruno Fernandes in advanced midfield roles, Ten Hag completely upset the balance of the team and left Casemiro totally exposed as Wolves overran their hosts in the middle of the park.

Mount’s injury suffered in the second game at Tottenham has seen Casemiro being paired largely with Christian Eriksen, but the Brazil international has been miles off the pace and Eriksen too looks like he is struggling to get around the pitch.

Against Brighton, Ten Hag handed Scott McTominay, who has been in fine form for Scotland, a rare United start as part of a midfield diamond but that did not work either as Brighton simply used their opponents’ narrow set-up to utilise space out wide. That wasn’t helped by Marcus Rashford’s reluctance to properly track back, which needs to be stamped out.

That lack of natural width has not been aided by Ten Hag banishing Sancho and Antony’s leave of absence, but in 19-year-old Alejandro Garnacho and 21-year-old Facundo Pellistri, he does have two natural wide men, albeit inexperienced ones. At least one of them HAS to start against Burnley live on talkSPORT on Saturday.

The balance will naturally be improved by the addition of on-loan Sofyan Amrabat, a player Ten Hag had been desperate to sign all summer before the hierarchy finally got the deal through on transfer deadline day having needlessly delayed the move.

Get back to taking pride in defending

Cast your minds back to Manchester United’s tense 1-0 win over Leicester early last season and you may recall Diogo Dalot butting chests with Lisandro Martinez after turning the ball behind for a corner.

Visible signs of despair compared to the chest pumping displays last season are worrying

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Visible signs of despair compared to the chest pumping displays last season are worryingCredit: Getty

Martinez himself had shown a similarly emotional reaction after winning a tackle during United’s 2-1 win over Liverpool weeks earlier to hand Ten Hag his first victory.

These were deliberate displays of public pride designed to show a new-found character and resilience running through the team.

That resilience was already on a downward spiral at the back end of last season when United almost limped into the top four, but fast forward to the here and now and the reaction of the United players to the sloppy goals they are conceding could not be more contrasting, with slumped shoulders and looks of resignation from those in red shirts.

That lack of responsibility and accountability has become a worrying trend, perhaps born out of unhappiness at a particularly intense pre-season campaign in the USA during which talkSPORT has been told Ten Hag afforded his troops very little, if any, downtime.

United’s players look mentally and physically weary, which in itself is a major concern this early into a season in which they hope to be seriously competitive on four fronts.

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One way or another, Ten Hag needs to get his players displaying the same positive attitude and determination that helped him become a success in his maiden campaign because the plain truth is they have developed a soft underbelly and become easy to play against, especially away from home where their record is nothing short of lamentable.

Burnley vs Manchester United is live on talkSPORT at 8pm on Saturday 23 September

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