Man Utd's 2022/23 Premier League Fixtures
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Erik ten Hag is finding out the hard way that Manchester United no longer have the pulling power they once had – just a couple of years after Roy Keane predicted that the club would struggle to attract top players. United have struggled to cope since Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down back in the summer of 2013 and slumped to a sixth-placed finish in the Premier League last season.
Although Ten Hag has the credentials to improve United’s fortunes both on and off the pitch, the Dutchman has struggled to attract the new signings that he desperately needs to get the club firing again.
And with United yet to make a single signing this summer, it appears as though the blunt prediction that Keane made back in April 2019 has come to fruition. Speaking to Sky Sports about United’s fall from grace, Keane previously said: “The worrying thing for me is that [United] need two centre-halves and two full-backs. That’s four for starters. And who’s making the final decision? You get the impression that there’s chaos in the background. I know [executive vice-chairman] Ed Woodward gets a lot of criticism, the scouting department—and will Ole have the final say over [signing] players? I don’t know, because if you speak to the previous managers I’ll bet you that was a big problem for them.
“Also, which players out there, which brilliant players out there that are available will want to come to United? I always thought that when I was a player and up until the last two years, if I spoke to a player who had a chance to go to Man Utd I would say, ‘you’ve got to go.’
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“I don’t care, brilliant club. Absolutely brilliant club. But you’re on about now players wanting to win the big prizes, then you look at Man Utd. If you’re a top player you will not want to come to Man Utd because there are better options out there in terms of winning trophies.”
Unfortunately for United, their fortunes haven’t improved since Keane’s bold prediction; in fact, United’s standing in the game has arguably regressed rather than improved – despite the fact that they were the ‘best of the rest’ after finishing second under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as recently as last summer.
Fast forward 12 months and United’s new man at the helm desperately needs to bring in his own players – but he’s quickly found out that the lure of playing for Manchester United no longer carries the same weight.
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United are still no closer to wrapping up a deal for Frenkie de Jong, even though they have been chasing the Barcelona man for weeks. De Jong was one of Ten Hag’s most important players at Ajax, but seemingly isn’t keen on a reunion at Old Trafford as United are unable to offer Champions League football.
Ten Hag has also reportedly been unable to convince Jurrien Timber, one of his defensive mainstays at Ajax, to join him in Manchester as the Dutch defender has been warned that only those playing regularly and in-form will make the cut for Holland’s World Cup squad.
The fact that Ten Hag has been unable to convince the likes of De Jong and Timber, two players who have worked with him extensively, to move to Old Trafford highlights just how big a task he has on his hands in Manchester – and just how far United have fallen in recent years.
And if Ten Hag is unable to attract some of his most trusted lieutenants, and the game’s top, top players are currently out of reach, then it’s unclear where he turns next in the transfer market.
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