A Stubborn Decline: Erik Ten Hag Needs to Go

The Sad State of Ten Hag's Tenure.

Ten Hag Out

A Pessimistic Synopsis

February 26th, 2023. Life is good. Manchester United have just ended a six year trophy drought. The League Cup trophy is coming back to Old Trafford. Where can you picture negatives that day? Honestly, at the time I was pretty much sold on Ten Hag being the manager we needed. A few good signings the upcoming summer to build this team in his image sounded great, right? Unfortunately, in hindsight I’ve come to realize this was a very reactionary statement. I should have known better. It had been so long since we had any real success that I got caught up in the hype. I’ve learned from my mistake and I’m going to make a very controversial statement.

Erik Ten Hag needs to go.

Hear Me Out

The trouble with this idea is it is a minority opinion and I suppose that’s warranted. The guy won a trophy in his first season in charge. We finished higher than most of us likely imagined given the start of the year against Brighton and Brentford. He’s laid a foot down and said to everyone, “This is my team, my way.”. He’s also made a very detailed plan to get in players this summer that he is familiar with. What is there to be upset about? It’s only two games into his second season. Give him time and he will write the wrong. Back the manager and back the players.

Given all the above, how do I even have a case you may ask? Lets have a look.

In the grand scheme of the last twelve months there are many red flags to derail popular opinion.

Ten Hag Signings

At the time of writing we have signed the following since Ten Hag took over:

Antony, Casemiro, Martinez, Malacia, Weghorst, Dubravka, Eriksen, Sabitzer, Hojlund, Mount, Evans, and Onana.

Twelve players, either permanently or on loan. As of right now, how many have been hits? For me you can count Casemiro, Martinez, and likely Onana as bang on successful signings. So 25% of the incomings under Ten Hag haven’t lived up to the billing, or in some cases were downright embarrassing. Yes, it is still early for some. However, all the players we end up linked to somehow how Eredivisie ties or connections with Ten Hag’s agency. So do we trust the players he recommends when most aren’t cutting it at the club? Is his talent ID trustworthy? I’m quite underwhelmed. Even players we don’t end up signing are still linked with the same description as above. He’s leading us down a path to become an English Ajax. It’s extremely suspect. I don’t necessarily see this as a controversial take. It’s not good enough and it’s not a good look.


This is an interesting one. Being the typical “stubborn” Dutchmen he is, he has a really hard time switching things up when they aren’t working. Ten Hag brought with him a tactical ideology that centered around a high press and winning the ball up the field. Blend that with a counter attacking style that will hit opponents on the break and suddenly we sound like the United of old. This plan has pretty much fallen apart. We don’t press well enough to base an entire set up around it. We also have no edge in counter attacks either. More often the not our outlets passes receive the ball and run forward, only to be stopped in their tracks, lose possession, or pass back and let a defensive shape re-align itself behind the ball.

What changes does Ten Hag make when he sees this system isn’t working? To be honest, not much.

We have lacked cutting edge and ideas for over a year, aside from relying on Rashford last season to carry the load. We’ve binned off our best attacking outlet in Ronaldo and at the time, replaced him with Weghorst on Ten Hag’s recommendation. That turned out hilariously bad. We signed Onana to play out from the back and unfortunately have nobody available to take his long passes in stride and turn them into a blistering counter attack. If our wingers can’t produce and we are stuck relying on Bruno to do anything in the middle, or Rashford in a position up front he doesn’t prefer, we’re in trouble.

You can blame the players, but it’s a team built in Ten Hag’s image. If they can’t adapt, why aren’t they dropped? Why does he persist with Antony? Or Weghorst when he was here? It’s come to a point that I seriously have doubts whether the players are even playing for the manager and his system. Or is it a case of his own stubborn philosophy being run into the ground because he is unwilling to budge?

Ten Hag Culture

This is one that is a very troubling thing to contemplate.

Everyone knows the Greenwood saga and what it has become. That being said, if reports are true, Ten Hag was open to having him back in the squad. That in itself is insane to me. How on Earth can a manager come to this club knowing the values it has and the values of current society and think this is okay?

We have also seen the Ronaldo saga play out and what became of it and personally I think that it was all handled quite badly on Ten Hag’s part. With Ronaldo’s lack of preseason and the personal issues surrounding him at the time, I find it very disrespectful from Ten Hag to blame his lack of preseason as a reason for their falling out. Interview aside (which was brilliant if you ask me and kickstarted the sale process) I think that entire situation was a disaster and less so because of anything Cristiano did or said. To then replace him with Weghorst? Criminal.

Finally the most baffling dilemma, Harry Maguire. The one that has everyone confused and sends a really poor message to players. Everyone knows that he needs to leave. We can even assume Ten Hag agrees. So why is he hyping him up in the media? Where is the “ruthless” manager that had the nerve to get rid of two club legends in Ronaldo and De Gea? It genuinely makes no sense. He’s not the only example of this treatment either. Martial, Sancho, McTominay, Van de Beek, Henderson, all still around. How? How is this group seemingly fine to lounge around unused ahead of those above mentioned club legends?

Personally, I think the “ruthless” aspect of Ten Hag is an absolute farce.

Wrap up

I don’t expect this to be a popular opinion by any means, but this club is supposed to be the biggest in England. A team built on success and standards. It isn’t any longer. I don’t buy what he’s selling and I think he’s had plenty of time to get things right. The League Cup bought him time and I can’t argue it even though I think it masked many things wrong at the club. I don’t see progress. I don’t see us making up ground on our rivals. I don’t see us competing in Europe. I can’t wrap my head around someone being happy with this squad after everything we’ve seen the last twelve months.

The ruthless thing to do in my eyes is to upgrade. This likely depends on new owners coming in and doing a complete make over of the club itself from top to bottom. I’m not going to fall under the spell of “Back the manager and back the players!” like so many do. I hold this club higher and Ten Hag is not reaching that bar. We are Manchester United. Not Ajax. It’s time we stop pretending to be.

About Garet 3 Articles
I hold Manchester United to it's rightful standards. Nobody is above criticism.

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