A team like Manchester United is often seen in the title contender’s list. They dominated the league, especially during the Ferguson Era, living up to the “Red Devils” tag. The team won 13 (out of 20) Premier League titles under Sir Alex Ferguson’s guidance. But recently, the team found itself in a bit of a slump despite spending billions on star players. The sight is undoubtedly sore for the Old Trafford faithful, as they begin their 2024 campaign in a similar fashion.
Manchester United’s current coach, Erik Ten Hag, has had a rough start in his first season but later showed great character to finish third above the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea at the end of the 2023 season. After losing the opening two games, they were fifth at the end of GW9 and had already played against Liverpool, Arsenal and Man City. Whereas in the 2024 season, the team stands 8th with 15 points on board and is yet to play against other big guns in the league. So compared to Tan Hag’s first season in charge, the indications are worrisome this season. But we have identified three critical things that will turn things around for them.
Three things Manchester United need to do to meet their end-of-season objective
1. Get the offense firing again:
It’s easy to say than done. But Tan Hag had done this before with the Manchester United team only. Rashford, in particular, had the best season with 17 Premier League and overall 30 goals in the 2023 season. He also had 11 assists and was the best player for the United for sure. The team added Mason Mount and Rasmus Hojlund, which looked to take the Red Devils to new heights. But it just remained a dream, as despite five starts in six games so far, Hojlund is yet to score a Premier League goal, and the team’s top scorer is part-time mid-fielder McTominay with three goals.
Getting multiple scorers is certainly a positive sign for any team, but at the expense of strikers could be daunting. United has 11 goals in nine games. That’s the 11th highest and far from their standards. Tag Hag needs to get his strikers more often on the score sheet.
2. Defensive stability and consistency:
Man United kept just two clean sheets and allowed 13 goals this season in just nine games. People are bashing Onana or the team’s poor defensive display, whereas their back four has been equally awful (yes, that’s the word) on the field. Yes, Onana made many mistakes and raised many questions over his ability to stand between the posts for United. The team had many legendary keepers in the past, and even in the last season, David De Gea won the Golden Glove award with 17 clean sheets. There are even transfer rumours around United for a keeper.
Known for his defensive stalwart, Ten Hag also needs to focus on the defensive end of the field. Yes, injuries restricted him from having a stable back four till now, but that’s the nature of the competitive games and the United need to find a way through this difficult situation.
3. Instill a winning mentality in the team, especially on home ground:
Manchester United of the past used to be feared for their comeback capabilities and killing instinct on the field. But the 2024 squad seems the complete opposite of the same. They are finding it difficult to crawl back from a goal-down position. The team is even struggling to please their home supporters and frequently getting “booed” for the poor show. Once considered unbeatable at the Home, United lost two games and ‘somehow’ won 3 games at the Old Trafford this term.
As we will be getting ready for the Manchester Derby on the 29th of October, there might be very little time to work on the above-mentioned points. But in order to have a productive season, Tan Hag and co need to seriously consider drastic changes on and off the field.