Michael Owen has revealed his biggest ‘worry’ about Manchester United currently is their lack of identity compared to their Premier League rivals, but he feels the club’s board can’t afford to sack Erik ten Hag now. The Red Devils have won three games on the bounce, including a dramatic victory over Copenhagen on Tuesday night courtesy of Andre Onana’s penalty save.
But United have been far from convincing in either of those wins and they face an uphill task in trying to extend that run this weekend when they take on rivals Manchester City. Ten Hag was brought in last year in the club’s latest attempt to close the gap to those competing at the top of the table.
He’s the fifth permanent manager United have appointed since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 and there were promising signs last year that he had the club going in the right direction. But he’s come under pressure in the first few months of this campaign with United failing to progress.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe looks set to complete his 25 per cent purchase of the club in the near future and a decision will likely be made on Ten Hag’s future. Owen feels that United now need to stick with Ten Hag regardless so that the club can finally kick on.
But the former England international still feels Ten Hag needs to work out what type of football he wants to play at United. “Manchester United are in a position at the moment where they are desperate to stick with a manager,” he told DAZN Bet.
“There has been so much chop and changing since Sir Alex Ferguson, and not every manager they employ can be bad. In fact, all of them had the CV to suggest they could be great managers. So at some point you have to stop chopping and changing and stick with a manager, and I think Manchester United are at that point where they really want some continuity.”
He added: “The one thing I say to people is that if you put Man City in front of me and changed the colours of their shirts and the faces of the players, I could watch them for about 30 seconds and say that’s Manchester City playing there. I could do the same with Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool and virtually every other team, including Brighton, they just have an identity.
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“I watch Man Utd and I still don’t know what they are, and I’ve been watching them for a very long time. I don’t know if they are a counter-attacking team, I don’t know if they are a possession team, I don’t know if they press from the front. I don’t feel they have this identity of what other teams have got and that’s my worry, I don’t know where their destination is.
“I don’t know where the end game is, I don’t know what they are building, they are just a bit of everything at the moment which is a bit of a worry.” A surprise win for United this weekend against City could turn their season around completely.
Pep Guardiola’s side haven’t been as convincing as previous years having lost in recent weeks to Wolves and Arsenal. And Ten Hag may be able to rely on Old Trafford’s atmosphere to help his side upset the odds against City.
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