3 things Erik ten Hag is doing wrong at Manchester United

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag against Fulham.

Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

Erik ten Hag’s initial days at Manchester United brought forth plenty of hope and the results were certainly there to see.

High-press football coupled with good attempts at goals saw a side that could genuinely challenge for the top spots in the Premier League and looked destined to go deep into the Champions League.

However, this campaign has failed to show any of the promises of the previous one. If anything, the former Ajax man is prone to fielding sides riddled with issues and the recent results paint a worrying picture about his future. Here are three things that he is doing wrong at the side.

1. The Midfield Conundrum

Mason Mount’s lengthy injury has clearly thrown a massive wrench into Ten Hag’s tactical hopes, but the solution to their central midfield crisis is not an elegant one. While much is correctly said about poor defence in recent weeks, the conduit at fault for the leaky backline might be the midfield.

Simply put, the way the team lines up even with the likes of Kobbie Mainoo in good form means that the central midfielders have far too much to do and are stretched too thin as a result.

This encourages oppositions to strive with their forward runs and let in those errant goals. Moreover, the formation woes do not achieve either midfield fluency nor in opportunities being created for the forwards, as evidenced by the poor service to Rasmus Hojlund.

2. In-Game Decision-Making

Ten Hag is certainly prone to making some weird substitutions. While it is true that United’s injury crisis has been a worrying one, the gaffer needs to get better with his substitutions.

The Red Devils are still finding the Fergie-time winners and the likes of Scott McTominay do redeem the gaffer’s substitutions on paper but the reality is far more sombre.

When needed, Ten Hag fails to make the substitutions which will kill a game and consolidate results. This has led to a worrying amount of points lost already.

3. No Training-Level Improvement

It is clear that the Dutch coach’s tactics are not seeing a training level improvement. Set-pieces via free-kicks and corners ought to be regular sources of threat and yet when the team undertakes them there is always the impression that enough practice has not gone in.

Moreover, it seems the whole squad is not on the same page when it comes to building attacks and pressing the opposition. Since the errors are recurrent and the opposition strategies nearly identical, it is plenty clear that whatever is happening at Carrington is not translating effectively on the pitch on matchdays.

All in all, Ten Hag is not a bad manager – his first season proved it in plenty. While injuries are the biggest culprit behind his hands being tied, the former Ajax manager can still turn things around by properly knuckling down the on the very tactics which poised him as the next exciting name in European football.