Ten Hag must find fix for United's crisis ahead of Carabao Cup defence

Erik ten Hag must continue to fix Man United’s crisis ahead of Carabao Cup defence against Palace… the next six games will be the acid test for the Dutchman despite Burnley win

  • Man United won the Carabao Cup last term but have been brought back to earth
  • There is a fear Erik ten Hag’s side could implode ahead of cup defence vs Palace
  • Mail Sport’s new WhatsApp Channel: Get the breaking news and exclusives here 

Manchester United start their defence of the Carabao Cup against Crystal Palace on Tuesday but there won’t be an air of celebration to mark the first trophy won by the club in six years.

United’s recent history suggests that post-Sir Alex Ferguson, their most promising seasons are quickly followed by a nosedive.

Unless the team come through the next run of six easier-looking fixtures in a strong position, there will be fears of Erik ten Hag’s team imploding, just as those managed by Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer did, costing both men their jobs only months after finishing Premier League runners-up.

There is an irony that when United fans have been allowed to feel more optimistic after decent campaigns, that’s when the trouble often begins.

In 2018, Mourinho took United to second place, their best league showing since Fergie won it. By the following December, he was gone.

Erik ten Hag won the Carabao Cup this season but knows success is often followed by a nosedive at Old Trafford ahead of their defence against Crystal Palace

United secured a vital win over Burnley on Saturday but still have work to do to fix their crisis

Frustrated by the club’s failure to agree a price with Leicester for Harry Maguire that summer, United’s biggest purchase was £52million for Fred.

The manager started kicking off on pre-season tour, pointedly remarking: ‘One thing is what I would like. Another thing is what is going to happen.’

He was sacked in mid-December with the team 11 points off the top four.

There was similar optimism in 2021 when Solskjaer’s side finished runners-up and the arrivals of Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo gave hope they could challenge for the title.

Instead, the Norwegian was perceived as weak as United’s dressing-room was split and he was fired after a 4-1 defeat against Watford in November.

He addressed the thorny matter of the signing of Ronaldo last week, saying it ‘was a decision that was very difficult to turn down and I felt we had to take it, but it turned out wrong’.

Solskjaer said: ‘When you have a group you need everyone to pull in the same direction. When things didn’t go right, you could see certain players and egos came out.’

United have endured a turbulent season that has seen them lose three times in six matches

Ten Hag must hope bad things don’t come in threes.

Last season, after beating Newcastle in a Wembley final in March, United finished in the top three and lifted silverware, the first time that had happened in a decade.

The club was generally praised when Mason Mount, Amadou Onana and Rasmus Hojlund walked in the door in summer transfers.

Ten Hag is a tough cookie, but even he’s seemed to struggle with some serious issues.

Mason Greenwood has been loaned to Getafe after having a criminal case dropped, Antony isn’t available while he deals with allegations of violence towards women, Jadon Sancho is training away from the first team and Harry Maguire has been targeted by fans.

While Ten Hag has spoken out at the poor culture he inherited, he can’t shift blame if Antony gets into trouble — the winger was his bespoke £85m signing.

Ten Hag cannot rely on last season’s success as a get-out this season and is still under scrutiny

Meanwhile, first-choice full-backs Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw are out with injuries.

United didn’t play well against Wolves, Tottenham, Nottingham Forest, Arsenal or Brighton in their opening five league fixtures. They were a defensive mess against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

The manager is under scrutiny for signing players from the Dutch league, none of whom have been an outstanding success, through particular agents.

United will look at upcoming fixtures, with games against Palace (twice), Galatasaray, Sheffield United, Brentford and FC Copenhagen, and hope they emerge in good shape. They must also hope memories of that glorious day at Wembley just six months ago will spark something in them at Old Trafford when they return to the domestic cup competition this week.

‘We prepare the team in the best way possible to get that kick-start,’ Ten Hag said.

‘You need everyone on board. Everyone is important. With togetherness, we are strong. That’s the only way we can get out of this mess.’

He’ll know he can’t use last season’s past improvements as a get-out.

At United in recent years, what goes up can quickly come down.


It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football, launching with a preview show today and every week this season.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube , Apple Music and Spotify

Your browser does not support iframes.

Source: Read Full Article