Man Utd’s troubled transfer window clouds Ten Hag’s prospects

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Erik ten Hag’s first competitive game as manager on Sunday should herald a fresh start for Manchester Untied, but familiar failings behind the scenes have made the Dutchman’s difficult job an almost impossible one.

Ten Hag’s predecessor Ralf Rangnick signed off from his miserable caretaker spell last season by stating the United squad needed “open heart surgery” and up to 10 new players after labouring to a sixth-placed finish in the Premier League.

The United squad is arguably weaker than last season with Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata having left for free, while goalkeeper Dean Henderson has joined Nottingham Forest on loan.

Ronaldo made his first appearance of pre-season on Sunday, playing in the first half of a 1-1 draw against Rayo Vallecano.

The former Ajax boss has shown a disciplinarian streak during his early weeks in charge, reportedly reintroducing fines for bad time-keeping and banning the players having their own personal chefs.

“It starts with him getting fit because he’s only just started,” Ten Hag told Sky Sports.

“So, the team and Cristiano himself has to prove it.”

Ronaldo’s likely absence from the starting line-up for Sunday’s visit of Brighton offers the chance for a front three of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jadon Sancho to get their United careers back on track.

Martial even spent the second half of last season on loan at Sevilla, but the Frenchman has been given a lifeline by Ronaldo’s desire to leave.

“This is my first year I have been with the team since the beginning (of pre-season),” said Rashford. “I feel a lot better than usual, when I go away with the nationals and come back partway through pre-season. It is important to get a fresh start. I feel fresh and ready.”

Ronaldo is not the only transfer saga of United’s summer as a prolonged and, so far fruitless, chase of Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong has left Ten Hag light in midfield.

The Argentine mainly played at centre-back for the Dutch champions, but his diminutive 5ft 9in (1.8m) stature has raised doubts over his ability to play that role in the Premier League.

Given the cards he has been dealt, just finishing in the top four will be a monumental achievement.

Originally published as Man Utd’s troubled transfer window clouds Ten Hag’s prospects


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