EPL 2022, Manchester United, News, Pre-season, Cristiano Ronaldo, Transfers, Erik ten Hag, Analysis

New Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag started his tenure with three wins and one draw on the pre-season tour of Asia and Australia.

Despite missing out on the wanton Cristiano Ronaldo, they have easily beaten Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace and drawn with Aston Villa while counting down to the new Premier League season in two weeks.

AFP Sport examines how United are developing under the former Ajax boss.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag gives instructions during the pre-season friendly match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Optus Stadium on July 23, 2022 in Perth, Australia.  (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag gives instructions during the pre-season friendly match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Optus Stadium on July 23, 2022 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

– Ronaldo Dilemma –

Ronaldo wants out of the club. He failed to report for pre-season training at the club’s Carrington training complex and missed their tour due to a ‘family issue’.

But Ten Hag said he spoke to the unsettled Superstar forward and insisted he was “not for sale”.

The 37-year-old’s attempt to force his way out of Old Trafford has also failed to spark the expected run for his signature.

“We plan Cristiano Ronaldo for the season and that’s it and I’m looking forward to working with him,” said the new coach in Thailand.

Though he may be at the end of his career, Ronaldo scored 24 goals in all competitions last season and was voted Player of the Year.

What’s next for Ronaldo? Four football giants turn their backs on Man Utd superstar after exit talks

– King Harry –

There has been speculation that England defender Harry Maguire could be sacked as captain and dropped altogether after he was heavily criticized by fans for his performances last season.

But Ten Hag quickly put an end to that by handing the veteran international centre-back the armband for his pre-season tour and saying he would remain captain of the club beyond that.

“He’s been an established captain for a couple of years and has had a lot of success so I don’t doubt that issue,” said the Dutchman ahead of the opening game against Liverpool in Bangkok, which Maguire missed with a grin.

The 29-year-old started against Palace in Melbourne but was booed by some fans.

Ten Hag may be confident in his cause, but it seems some backers will need a lot more convincing.

Red Devils rebound to beat Victory | 02:19

– Martial makes arguments –

With Ronaldo absent, forward Anthony Martial seized his chance to impress the new boss with three well-scored goals on tour.

The 26-year-old’s career at United ended after spending the second half of last season on loan at Sevilla but he appears to have been revived.

Sharp-witted and energetic, he bonded well with Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho as he battles for his future.

Martial enjoyed his prime at United under another Dutchman, Louis van Gaal, with early signs suggesting the similarly methodical Ten Hag could also get the best out of the France international.

Martial (R) and Jadon Sancho appear to be developing a powerful combination.Source: AFP

– Disciplinary Ten Hag –

Ten Hag are tough on their players, employing a system of fines if they break ranks and reportedly banning alcohol during match weeks.

Midfielder Bruno Fernandes welcomed the stricter approach.

“We missed that for a while and discipline is important,” said the Portugal international.

“Discipline is not only the way you play, the position you have, what you have to do, but also off the pitch.

“Don’t be late for meetings, don’t be late for dinner.

“This is really important because if everyone is on time and someone is late, they should be penalized.”

Man Utd win at MCG | 01:22

– New Faces –

Ten Hag have made three key signings as their revamped squad takes shape – midfielder Christian Eriksen and defenders Tyrell Malacia from Feyenoord and Lisandro Martinez from Ajax.

Malacia was the only one on the tour and showed his credentials when he came on for Luke Shaw at left-back.

But it’s veteran midfield schemer Eriksen, coming from Brentford, that Ten Hag seem most excited about.

“I think he’s a great footballer and I think the fans will enjoy watching him because he’s creative and has ideas,” said Ten Hag of the 30-year-old Dane, who is an asset in dead-ball situations can be.

United are still haggling with Barcelona for Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong and Ten Hag says he wants more new faces.

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