Sports FOOTBALL Fans' view 'Ten Hag gives me hope – unlike...

Fans’ view ‘Ten Hag gives me hope – unlike the Glazers’


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The appointment of a new Manchester United manager used to be as rare as a trophyless season at Old Trafford, yet it now feels almost as frequent. Between the summers of 1977 and 2013 only three men held the title of manager, the same number United have had this season alone.

Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, there have been five United managers (seven counting caretakers), a sad indictment of how far we have fallen.

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The last time I was asked to write for the Guardian on United, it was after the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjær and I stressed how the Norwegian’s failures weren’t just down to him but a lack of structure at the club.

The appointment of Ralf Rangnick as interim manager may not have been the most obvious or, if we’re being honest, successful appointment, but the fact he has experience of overseeing clubs and will be kept as a consultant makes a lot of sense.

When Erik ten Hag and Mauricio Pochettino emerged as the frontrunners for the United job and I was asked who I’d prefer, I said Ten Hag, not because I’m an expert on Dutch football who spends his spare time poring over clips of Ajax and flicking through his Total Football handbook, but because his record gives me something I didn’t have with Pochettino: hope.

I’m far from certain Ten Hag will win titles and challenge for top honors, but there’s always the hope that he can, the hope that his record at Ajax is the sign of a manager ready to take the next step.

Unlike some of his predecessors Ten Hag isn’t coming to United with his best years behind him, he has not been sacked from his previous job as José Mourinho had been, and his most successful spell wasn’t decades before he arrived like Louis van Gaal’s.

Unlike Pochettino, Ten Hag seems to be a manager on the up and in contrast to David Moyes and Solskjær there don’t seem to be as many doubts regarding his CV.

Moyes and Solskjær seemed to be anointed rather than appointed, Moyes because Ferguson believed in him after a long if slightly uninspiring spell at Everton, whereas Solskjær forced the issue somewhat with a phenomenal early run as caretaker.

For once, United appear to have had a process, and it seems slightly more joined up than some of the routes the club has taken, even if it is nine years too late.

If you apply for a job at Burger King you’d go through an interview process but, to quote an early Wayne Rooney tweet, in the past United’s only question to candidates seems to have been: “Do you want picking up in the morning? ”

Manchester United supporters protest against the Glazers last weekend. Photographer: Ed Sykes/Action Images/Reuters

One shadow looming over any United manager is the clueless cash drain at the top of the club known as the Glazers.

Not only do they take money out of the club regardless of how much it is needed elsewhere, not only have they left United in the type of debt that would make a small nation panic, the owners have also proven inept at appointing the right people to run the club.

We saw Graeme Souness defending the Glazers after United’s defeat at Liverpool this week, comments that left Gary Neville sinking in his chair as if he’d just had a hairdryer off Ferguson.

The Glazers have left United with a stadium that is falling apart, a training ground that has gone from modern to vintage and a squad that needs a massive overhaul – again. Time will tell how ready they are to get out of the way and let the club be run properly.

Ten Hag takes over a team in turmoil with several players out of contract and more reportedly determined to leave. Whether he can or would want to convince any of them to stay remains to be seen but I wouldn’t lose too much sleep if he drove them to the airport.

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The fans will be expected to be patient with the new manager and anyone who sees what he has inherited should understand it is going to take more than a decent transfer window and a few coaching sessions to turn this mess around.

The gap that separates United from City and Liverpool acts as a stark reminder of the task Ten Hag faces and makes me wish this season would hurry up and get into the bin where it belongs.

We’ve a long way to go before we can challenge for titles but if the club can back Ten Hag properly and keep the money men out of his decisions, hopefully the appointment of a new United manager can, as in years gone by, become a much rarer occurrence.

Jay Motty is a lifelong Manchester United fan who is part of the Stretford Paddock YouTube channel.

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