The reigns of David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had intermittent moments of quality, but all were unable to bring a cutting-edge back to the fabled club. Mourinho delivered two trophies and a 2nd-placed finish and Van Gaal brought the FA Cup, but both failed to connect with the United fanbase and always looked somewhat out-of-place in the dugout.
Solskjaer brought a feel-good factor upon his arrival and the Norwegian did connect with the fans for obvious reasons, but he seemed to be unable to change the course of a game and often didn’t introduce substitutions until it was too late. There were also several regressions in players’ performances during his three-year spell at the helm and the less said about the 2021 Europa League final, the better.
Ralf Ragnick’s brief spell was a complete disaster and the club looked just as, if not more, toxic than it did in the last days of Mourinho’s reign. At the fifth time of asking, it looks as if United’s managerial merry-go-round has finally ended, and the club’s future hasn’t looked this promising in years.
A 5th Time Of Asking
A flat first-half performance saw Ten Hag go back to the drawing board and rip up the system he’d originally planned. Wout Weghorst, who was largely anonymous, was hooked-off and Antony was brought-on to play wide-right. Sancho looked like a passenger in the 10 position and was moved to the left wing, whilst the red-hot Marcus Rashford was moved into the centre.
Bruno Fernandes reverted to his natural 10 position and the results were almost-immediate, with United looking like the well-oiled attacking unit they did in the first-leg. Fred equalised soon into the second half before Antony tucked home a smart finish to put United ahead.
It was Ten Hag’s tactical switches that won the tie for the Red Devils and it looks like the club finally have a manager who’s capable of changing the outcome of a game. Combine the Dutchman’s tactical nous with his popularity with the fans and his attractive style of play, and you have a manager Manchester United should have appointed years ago.
The Red Devils are bearing down on their first major trophy of Erik ten Hag’s reign as they face Newcastle United in the League Cup final on Sunday 26 February. Should the Dutchman deliver silverware, his status as fan-favourite will be cemented even further.
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