Soccer

Man Utd boss ten Hag has made five pundits look silly including Keane

Man Utd boss ten Hag remembers last trip to Crystal Palace

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Manchester United’s strong start to the season has left many pundits looking silly after manager Erik ten Hag was heavily criticised during the opening stages of his tenure. Plenty of doubt was cast over the Dutchman upon his arrival, though he has allowed his management to do the talking.

The Red Devils are currently fourth in the Premier League and a victory over Crystal Palace on Wednesday night will see them move into second. The Old Trafford outfit have been in scintillating form this season, with new signings taking the team up a level and once-forgotten stars bouncing back to form, such as Marcus Rashford.

Lisandro Martinez, Casemiro and Christian Eriksen have been central to United’s wins, and Ten Hag played a major role in the recruitment of the trio. Though the ex-Ajax boss will be pleased with how his overall squad has improved under his management – and how he has left pundits with egg on their faces.

United lost their opening two matches of the season under Ten Hag, prompting many to jump to the conclusion that he was out of his depth and the team were destined for another miserable campaign. Though the performances of late prove how irrational those beliefs were…

Roy Keane

Ex-United star Roy Keane is known for his pessimism, though he did raise an eyebrow earlier this season when he struggled to crack a smile after a good run of results from his former side. He delivered a cutting speech, saying: “They’re on a good run and they’ve beaten teams recently, but they’ve not really played anybody.

“Of course, they’ve got City coming up in a few weeks and Arsenal but I’m still not convinced. I still think the problems are there with the centre-backs, I’m still not convinced with the goalkeeper [David de Gea]. They’re better than obviously last year, which wouldn’t have been hard.”

Despite Keane’s comments, United have beaten Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham this term.

Graeme Souness

After a 4-0 loss away to United, Graeme Souness said that finishing in the top four was ‘beyond’ Ten Hag’s side. Of course, plenty can change between now and the end of the season, but the comment appears to be incredibly wide of the mark.

Souness questioned why Ten Hag lined up with a midfield of Eriksen, Fred and Bruno Fernandes for the match and also felt that he was being fed poor information from his backroom staff on upcoming opponents that he was not familiar with. He told the Daily Mail: “‘It looks like being another year of scrutiny and disappointment. I wrote in this column two weeks ago that I could see United finishing in the top four. I was wrong. That is almost certainly beyond them.”

Ten Hag of course proved Souness wrong with the Red Devils now firmly in the fight for the Champions League spots.

Gary Neville

Emotions appeared to get the better of Neville after the Brentford defeat and he took aim at the players rather than Ten Hag. The former England right-back felt that a new manager only proved that the team were not good enough and that the display was a ‘new low’. Following that loss, United have only tasted defeat three times in all competitions, proving that the players are capable of competing at the very top level.

Neville told Sky Sports: “These players have proved under three different managers have shown they don’t run hard enough. They are drained of all confidence. They need help.

“I’ve been a coach of a struggling team before and they need something. Today is a new low. It seems like United can continually surpass their lows. The reality is this is really really bad.”

And we all know the run United have gone on since…

Gabriel Agbonlahor

Former Aston Villa star Gabriel Agbonlahor unsurprisingly was the hastiest to call for United to sack Ten Hag. After his second game in charge of the club (Brentford), the ex-striker baffled talkSPORT listeners by saying: “If I was them now after this game I’d be thinking, ‘You know what, Ten Hag, just pack up’.

“He’s had pre-season and they have started the season as a shambles, they’re like strangers on the pitch. They’re just not good enough, amateur from Manchester United.” Whether a new manager in the dugout would have had differing results at the Theatre of Dreams will remain a mystery, though United fans will feel that there are not many coaches better suited to spearheading their revival.

United will have recorded 10 wins in a row if they beat Palace…

Paul Merson

Finally, despite United playing well at the time of speaking, Paul Merson suggested that the Red Devils’ higher powers should be disappointed that they did not approach Brighton to sign Graham Potter prior to his move to Chelsea. He told Sportskeeda that the ex-Swansea manager is capable of building top teams, though his opening spell at Stamford Bridge has proven that he needs plenty of time to do so.

Merson explained: “Potter has shown in his time with Swansea City and Brighton that he’s more than capable of creating teams that can go toe-to-toe with the best in the business. I’ve said before that Manchester United should have.”

He then went on to say: “As for Manchester United, I don’t think they’ll make it because they still have a lot of work to do in terms of their squad. They’ve won four league games in a row, including victories against Liverpool and Arsenal, but I’m yet to be convinced by them.” Merson must surely be convinced by Ten Hag’s work at this stage…

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