MU’s Anticipated Premier League Debut: What Worries Coach Ten Hag the Most?

MU’s Anticipated Premier League Debut: What Worries Coach Ten Hag the Most?

As the kickoff of the 2023/24 Premier League season approaches, Manchester United (MU) faces various challenges. Often dubbed the “Friendly Kings,” a nickname coined by MU’s critics to mock their success in preseason friendlies, the team has indeed struggled in recent years to carry that form into the actual season. Last summer serves as a prime example, where MU dominated preseason matches and even claimed a trophy in Bangkok, Thailand. However, they stumbled against Brighton and Brentford in the first two Premier League fixtures under the management of Erik Ten Hag.

Their end-of-year results were relatively optimistic, securing the League Cup, finishing as runners-up in the FA Cup, and clinching third place in the Premier League. Yet, the narrative has taken a different turn this season. In their last five friendlies, MU suffered three losses, managed one draw, and only secured one win. This signifies an end to their “Friendly Kings” title.

Is this a positive or concerning sign? On the bright side, MU seems to be learning from the necessary losses. Ten Hag has been bold in experimenting during friendlies. While victories are enjoyable, defeats expose weaknesses that require attention.

Transforming these preseason setbacks into wins or even draws during the regular season would be commendable. Additionally, exerting full effort in friendlies, especially with the upcoming season so close, might not be the wisest strategy.

However, considering the other perspective, MU’s inability to win even friendlies raises concerns. In their last five outings, Ten Hag’s team has often conceded goals and found themselves chasing opponents. Though Onana’s integration has been swift, the defensive line-up, from the Varane-Martinez pairing to Maguire-Lindelof, has yet to provide a sense of security. While the outcome of friendlies isn’t paramount, it does reflect the reality that Ten Hag needs to address MU’s defensive issues.

It’s important to note that criticism is poised to explode if MU falters in the early Premier League rounds. Their first opponent, Wolves, has just undergone a managerial change, leaving no room for excuses in case of a MU defeat.

Ten Hag surely comprehends this scenario better than anyone. However, whether the Dutch coach can find a solution to this issue remains unanswered. The “Red Devils” must triumph over Wolves to validate the efficacy of their summer experiments. Failure to do so could spell significant trouble for Ten Hag and his team.”

Hoan Le