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How Erik ten Hag has turned Manchester United around after fourth straight win


It was one of many lowest factors in Manchester United’s fashionable historical past. Their gamers slinked again to the dressing room trailing Brentford by 4 objectives and Erik ten Hag appeared set to be swamped by the size of his rebuilding mission.

If the Bees might destroy United so simply, it did not bear fascinated by what the likes of Manchester Metropolis and Liverpool would do to them.

However quick ahead three weeks and United look a staff remodeled. Liverpool had been overwhelmed towards all odds and early Premier League pace-setters Arsenal as properly, to not point out Southampton and Leicester inbetween.

Erik ten Hag waves to the Old Trafford stands after Manchester United beat Arsenal on Sunday

Erik ten Hag waves to the Outdated Trafford stands after Manchester United beat Arsenal on Sunday

United produced a stunning display of counter-attacking football to record another win

United produced a shocking show of counter-attacking soccer to report one other win

It's all a far cry from United's disastrous 4-0 defeat to Brentford in their second game

It is all a far cry from United’s disastrous 4-0 defeat to Brentford of their second recreation

The latest three points lifted United to fifth in the Premier League, three points off the top

The most recent three factors lifted United to fifth within the Premier League, three factors off the highest

Sunday’s efficiency was the very best but underneath Ten Hag, an exhibition of counter-attacking in the very best United custom mixed with a new-found defensive resilience that appears to have come out of nowhere.

The 4 straight wins have bred confidence inside a staff that appears settled, perceive what their supervisor requires of them and are starting to indicate indicators of an id.

We take a more in-depth look right here at how Ten Hag has efficiently circled United’s shambolic opening to the marketing campaign.


When Ben Mee utterly dominated Lisandro Martinez to go dwelling Brentford’s third aim on that fateful afternoon, loads questioned whether or not the £55million arrival might address English soccer.

A lot was made from his top – a mere 5ft 9in – and the way he appeared destined to be bullied by each Premier League striker.

However Ten Hag’s choice to hook Martinez for Raphael Varane at half-time on that afternoon did not show to be deadly for the Argentine’s probabilities of holding down a beginning place.

As an alternative, Ten Hag made the large name to drop captain Harry Maguire for the Liverpool recreation and to accomplice Martinez and Varane collectively as an alternative. It’d properly show the defining second in United’s season.

Diogo Dalot and Lisandro Martinez chest bump as Raphael Varane looks on against Leicester

Diogo Dalot and Lisandro Martinez chest bump as Raphael Varane appears to be like on towards Leicester

As Maguire has watched on from the bench, they’ve fashioned a stable and dependable partnership. Martinez has proved his price with loads of tenacity and fairly a number of aerial clearances, overcoming these preliminary wobbles.

Varane is exhibiting the positioning and ball-winning skill that gained him the World Cup with France and 4 Champions League titles with Actual Madrid. He solely confirmed glimpses final season however is performing extra constantly now.

Having conceded six objectives of their opening two video games to Brighton and Brentford, there was a urgent want to repair United’s leaky defence and get your entire staff on a agency footing.

Martinez clatters Arsenal forward Gabriel Jesus during Sunday's victory at Old Trafford

Martinez clatters Arsenal ahead Gabriel Jesus throughout Sunday’s victory at Outdated Trafford

United’s season to date 

August 7 Brighton (H) 1-2

August 13 Brentford (A) 0-4

August 22 Liverpool (H) 2-1

August 27 Southampton (A) 1-0

September 1 Leicester Metropolis (A) 1-0

September 4 Arsenal (H) 3-1 

Ten Hag seems to have discovered the best central defensive mixture and two of these 4 wins for the reason that Brentford loss have been accompanied by very welcome clear sheets.

Much more satisfying is how a lot it means to those United defenders to make an important sort out or block a goalbound shot – we have seen chest bumps and plenty of again slapping from Martinez, Varane, Diogo Dalot and others.


Sunday’s win over Arsenal was arguably United’s finest show of counter-attacking soccer since they thrashed RB Leipzig 5-0 in November 2020, simply when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seemed to be getting them again to their finest.

The widespread theme between the 2 video games is Marcus Rashford – he scored an outstanding treble that night time and received two objectives towards Arsenal, twice rounding off fast breaks that sliced Arsenal’s defence open.

Whereas Mikel Arteta performed proper into United’s palms by making attacking substitutions that pushed their defensive position ever additional ahead and disrupted their momentum, the return of United’s basic counter-attacking thrilled followers.

Final season, Rashford could properly have missed the one-on-one alternative towards Aaron Ramsdale that restored United’s lead at a time when Arsenal had been properly within the ascendancy.

Marcus Rashford, who scored twice on Sunday, is looking back to his electrifying best

Marcus Rashford, who scored twice on Sunday, is wanting again to his electrifying finest

Within the wake of his Euro 2020 remaining penalty miss, the poisonous social media fall-out from it and his shoulder surgical procedure, Rashford appeared a shadow of his former self in United’s assault, scoring solely 4 objectives all season.

Now is just one aim shy of matching that tally simply six video games into the present season and has clearly seen his confidence restored by Ten Hag. With a World Cup approaching, he could properly power his approach again into the England squad.

It helps that there’s presently some certainty about Rashford’s function. With Cristiano Ronaldo benched, Rashford is once more main the road having been shunted out vast by earlier United managers.

Confidence is flooding via the sport of Jadon Sancho as properly after a slightly detached first season at Outdated Trafford.

Jadon Sancho rounds the goalkeeper to score United's winner at Leicester on Thursday night

Jadon Sancho rounds the goalkeeper to attain United’s winner at Leicester on Thursday night time

He scored the winner at Leicester on Thursday night time, having the reassurance to spherical goalkeeper Danny Ward and slot dwelling in a single fluid movement after Rashford slipped him via.

That was his second of the marketing campaign already – he opened the scoring within the win over Liverpool with a composed end – and that confidence to run at opposition defenders and make perfectly-timed darts is evidently again in his recreation.

It is to Ten Hag’s credit score that for the reason that Brentford defeat, he appears to have lifted a weight from the shoulders of attackers who’ve appeared burdened for much too lengthy.


There was at all times a hazard the signing of Christian Eriksen this summer time could be overshadowed by the £85.5m spent on Antony and the £70m lavished on Casemiro.

Not a little bit of it. The Dane has been excellent in United purple to date, slotting in completely to central midfield and serving as the best hyperlink man between defence and assault.

As Martin Tyler noticed on Sky Sports activities commentary on Sunday afternoon, not even Arsenal followers might begrudge Eriksen his wonderful efficiency towards them.

Christian Eriksen was excellent as United beat Arsenal and is proving to be a great signing

Christian Eriksen was wonderful as United beat Arsenal and is proving to be an ideal signing

Eriksen performed a hand in all three objectives together with his quick-thinking to bypass the Arsenal midfield and get United shifting for Antony’s opener a specific spotlight.

Protecting acres of floor, Eriksen willingly mucked in with defensive work earlier than charging via to sq. to Rashford for the game-killing third.

He appears to be like comfy with Scott McTominay alongside him and also you’d anticipate the identical if it was Casemiro or Fred in there. He has shortly struck up an ideal understanding with Bruno Fernandes forward of him.

It was thought that the 30-year-old, given what occurred together with his cardiac arrest eventually yr’s Euros, could be a bit-part participant utilized by Ten Hag primarily off the bench.

That uncomfortable afternoon at Brentford apart, Eriksen has advised he’s price much more to United and their supervisor than that and also you definitely would not drop him proper now.

Casemiro cost United £70million but may have his work cut out to win a midfield place

Casemiro price United £70million however could have his work reduce out to win a midfield place


Through the Alex Ferguson years, matches towards Arsenal had been usually highlights of the season and the place tenacious gamers like Phil Neville, Darren Fletcher and Park Ji-Sung took the plaudits.

McTominay continued that custom brilliantly on Sunday because the midfielder did not give Arsenal’s attackers a second’s peace and helped Martinez and Varane out with clearances on the bottom and within the air.

Ten Hag has realised that the Scot’s top is an asset and good cowl for Martinez because the Argentine correctly beds in to English soccer.

McTominay, who many anticipated to drop out the facet when Casemiro arrived, has made the strongest doable case to stay in there and his tireless efforts are at all times appreciated by United followers.

Arsenal have been in free-flowing kind to date this season and United required a midfield disruptor like McTominay to get the higher of them, even when it took a tactical foul.

Scott McTominay was a pain in the side of Arsenal all afternoon in a tenacious midfield display

Scott McTominay was a ache within the facet of Arsenal all afternoon in a tenacious midfield show

One stat stood out when illustrating how confidence has been restored at United since that opening day loss to Brighton.

McTominay solely accomplished two-thirds of his passes that afternoon. Towards Arsenal, his cross completion was 100 per cent.

All of which provides Ten Hag a dilemma. He now has McTominay, Casemiro, Fred and Eriksen to cram into two midfield berths, a luxurious of alternative few anticipated when Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic departed over the summer time.

Thank goodness for the beginning of the UEFA Europa League group part to make the fixture calendar much more hectic!


Too usually a huffing, puffing and remonstrating determine final season, Bruno Fernandes is one other determine who has benefitted from Ten Hag coming in and the daring choices made by the Dutch coach.

Although he scored 10 objectives and claimed an additional 14 assists final season, it was painfully clear that his recreation was affected by the presence of his Portugal team-mate Ronaldo.

With Ronaldo beginning on the bench in the intervening time, Fernandes has returned to one thing approaching the shape he confirmed when Solskjaer first signed him in January 2020.

Fernandes gets a hug from David de Gea after another impressive showing on Sunday

Fernandes will get a hug from David de Gea after one other spectacular exhibiting on Sunday

His work price towards Arsenal was notable, additionally his willingness to trace again and assist the defence. Fernandes additionally performed a key function within the transfer for Antony’s opener and provided an beautiful cross for Rashford to internet United’s second.

The way in which he deftly completed to attain the decisive aim at Southampton the weekend earlier than provided up extra proof of a participant getting again to his finest.

It is essential United maintain this and likewise necessary that Fernandes and Ronaldo discover a approach of linking up as a result of the 37-year-old will get a run of video games once more at some stage and so they cannot be treading on each other’s toes.

Fernandes is smiling once more and having fun with taking part in soccer for United as he did in that first season-and-a-half at Outdated Trafford earlier than all of it went downhill.

There was some extent when Ten Hag summoned Fernandes and Eriksen to the touchline to clarify some tactical directions he’d scribbled on a notepad. A bit little bit of restored belief and accountability can go a great distance.

Half-an-hour later and Fernandes was embracing David de Gea and Anthony Elanga as he left the pitch victorious.

Ten Hag imparts tactical instructions to Eriksen and Fernandes during the win over Arsenal

Ten Hag imparts tactical directions to Eriksen and Fernandes through the win over Arsenal


One of the shocking sights on Sunday was Cristiano Ronaldo chasing down Arsenal defenders and main from the entrance when it got here to the urgent Ten Hag places a lot retailer in.

It was the primary signal we have seen that he’s shopping for in to how the brand new supervisor desires United to play and dispelled plenty of fan fears.

Antony showed his love for Ronaldo on Instagram after the Portuguese stood and applauded his debut goal

Antony confirmed his love for Ronaldo on Instagram after the Portuguese stood and applauded his debut aim

Perhaps it is the impact of beginning 4 consecutive video games among the many substitutes. Warming the bench is not one thing Ronaldo is accustomed to and when he received on for the ultimate 30-odd minutes he had one thing to show.

Now the switch window is closed and he is at United till at the least January, the professionalism in Ronaldo’s character has kicked in and he’ll be absolutely dedicated to the trigger.

The truth is, United’s afternoon might solely have been capped by Ronaldo scoring his first of the season, one thing that will have occurred had somebody aside from Fred performed the cross-field cross that sprung him clear within the dying minutes.

Irrespective of, Ronaldo had executed greater than sufficient to indicate he has an enormous function to play this season and the extra urgent he does, the larger function Ten Hag will give him.

The delight on Ronaldo’s face as he stood up within the dug-out to applaud Antony’s well-taken first aim for United was one other good signal too.

Antony responded on his Instagram tales, posting an image of the second Ronaldo changed him on 58 minutes with the caption: ‘Idol’.

Ronaldo pressed from the front as he affirmed his commitment to Ten Hag's way of playing

Ronaldo pressed from the entrance as he affirmed his dedication to Ten Hag’s approach of taking part in


It was evident even throughout United’s pre-season tour that Tyrell Malacia, who price £13m from Feyenoord, might show a useful signing.

His crossing was on level, his tackling efficient and it was instantly apparent that Luke Shaw would have some severe competitors for the left-back spot.

So it has proved, with Malacia taking part in each minute since he changed the lacklustre Shaw midway via that disastrous night at Brentford.

Shaw was as soon as once more an unused sub towards Arsenal and he appears to be like destined for Europa League soccer solely in the interim.

Tyrell Malacia looks to have nailed down the left-back position ahead of Luke Shaw

Tyrell Malacia appears to be like to have nailed down the left-back place forward of Luke Shaw

Thoughts you, Malacia did discover Bukayo Saka a handful, leaving him free for Arsenal’s aim, and there have been appeals for a penalty following a slipshod problem late on.

However he has proven sufficient within the opening weeks of the season to recommend he can maintain down the left-back spot, simply as Dalot appears to be like more and more at dwelling on the opposite facet.


Probably the most depressing second of that Brentford defeat got here when Martinez took a aim kick to David de Gea, who performed it out to Eriksen not far out however underneath strain from Mathias Jensen, who gleefully accepted the present.

All 11 of United's players touched the ball in the build-up to Antony's opening goal

All 11 of United’s gamers touched the ball within the build-up to Antony’s opening aim

From that second, Ten Hag deserted the instruction for United to cross out from defence. Within the Liverpool recreation, to bypass their notoriously efficient press, De Gea was instructed to kick lengthy each time.

It had the specified impact and although, in time, Ten Hag little doubt will need United to cross from again to entrance, he at the least realised the gamers weren’t as much as it proper now and extra work was wanted on the coaching floor.

Thoughts you, they’ll do one thing like that as a result of the build-up to Antony’s aim concerned a contact from all 11 United gamers and 18 passes.

There’s nothing worse than a cussed supervisor who would not handle manifestly apparent errors being made by his gamers.

Not solely have United enhanced their work price, are passing extra easily and are taking possibilities clinically however they’ve reduce out the foolish errors that price them initially of the marketing campaign.

Because the season now enters a busy schedule previous to the World Cup, Ten Hag will solely hope this profitable kind continues.


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