After enduring the worst campaign in their Premier League history in the 2021/22 season, Manchester United opted to appoint Erik ten Hag as their new boss to rebuild the squad.
United were going through a six-year trophy drought when the Dutchman took charge and straightaway Ten Hag managed to help the Red Devils win a trophy last term.
Man Utd finished third in the table and won the Carabao Cup last season, beating Newcastle United in the final. United were even considered to be the contenders for the title at one stage before they fell off.
So, United enjoyed a pretty successful campaign in Ten Hag’s debut season as Man Utd boss. Therefore, there was optimism ahead of this season that Man Utd would continue the progress and close the gap with Manchester City.
With that hope, United opted to spend big this summer to reinforce their squad. Scoring goals was a problem for United last term so they opted to splash £72m to sign Rasmus Hojlund.
Ten Hag made a big call and decided not to renew the long-term server and last season’s Golden Gloves winner, David de Gea’s contract. So, he was allowed to leave the club for free. United have signed Andre Onana to replace the Spaniard and Altay Bayindir has also been signed to support the Cameroonian.
Midfield was an area that Ten Hag thought needed strengthening so he has decided to sign Mason Mount and Sofyan Amrabat – who has joined the club on a season-long loan with an option to make the move permanent next summer.
The United boss also wanted to strengthen the defence this summer and several players were mentioned as potential targets, but the Red Devils reportedly couldn’t afford to spend big to sign a new defender so they ended up acquiring Jonny Evans’ service for free.
Man Utd have also signed Sergio Reguilon on a loan deal from Tottenham Hotspur to add depth to their left-back position.
Start to this season
After a busy summer window, it initially looked like Man Utd strengthened the squad and they would continue the progress under Ten Hag’s guidance this season. However, things have actually gone completely opposite to that.
United have endured a disappointing start to this season and didn’t have a good start in the Champions League either as they lost to Bayern Munich 4-3 in their opening fixture, though they returned to winning ways after beating Burnley in the Premier League.
So, doubts have already started to emerge as to whether Ten Hag is the right man for United to help them win success going forward.
Injury issues and other absentees
United have currently been stung with several injury problems early into this season. Luke Shaw, Tyrell Malacia and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have been sidelined for an extended period due to their respective issues. Jadon Sancho and Antony are also sidelined due to their off-field problems.
Sofyan Amrabat and Raphael Varane were also sidelined with their injuries before returning last night against Burnley as second-half substitutes.
Mason Mount has returned to first-team training after recovering from his injury and it remains to be seen when he will come back. Harry Maguire is also currently sidelined with a problem. Lisandro Martinez has now been included in the casualty list as he was absent versus Vincent Kompany’s side on Saturday night due to an injury problem.
So, it has been suggested that these injuries and other off-field issues like Antony and Sancho’s are the main cause behind their recent struggles and they may turn their fortunes around once the players come back.
United’s main objectives
Man Utd’s main objective for this season is obviously to finish in the top-four and qualify for the Champions League. They are in Europe’s elite club competition so they will have to play more tough games this season. Therefore, Ten Hag will have less opportunity to rotate his squad this term.
Squad depth is essential to fight for domestic cup competitions, along with challenging for bigger prizes like the Premier League and the Champions League.
United are not expected to win the Premier League this season but they could go deep into the Champions League if they can find form along the way this season – although that seems highly unlikely at the moment.
So, it is expected that given Man Utd are in Europe’s elite club competition, they would focus more on fighting for that trophy rather than the domestic cup competitions this season.
However, Ten Hag has made it clear that he wants to win every game and wants to win every trophy that United are participating in. But, without a proper squad depth, it would be impossible to achieve that.
So, the Dutchman might opt to rotate his squad in the domestic cup competitions to keep his players fresh for the Premier League and the Champions League fixtures.
Therefore, it is unlikely that Ten Hag would go all out to win the Carabao Cup once again having already won that last term.
Man Utd vs Crystal Palace: preview team news and prediction
Man Utd are set to commence their EFL Cup campaign on Tuesday evening when they will welcome Crystal Palace at Old Trafford.
United are lucky to be drawn as the home team in this game so they would certainly not want to lose in midweek. Therefore, Ten Hag will be looking to field a strong team versus the Eagles. You can still buy tickets for the game at Seatsnet and this could be a good opportunity to attend a game in person if you struggle to get hold of tickets for bigger competitions like the Premier League or Champions League.
United will certainly be without Shaw, Malacia and Wan-Bissaka, while Sancho and Antony won’t be available either.
Maguire and Martinez are in doubt ahead of this encounter. Sergio Reguilon limped off after sustaining an injury versus Burnley so there is a question mark about his availability as well.
Ten Hag would certainly like to make some changes to his starting eleven from the previous game against Burnley and it remains to be seen what he eventually opts to do.
As for Palace, James Tomkims, Matheus Franca, Michael Olise and Jefferson Lerma are expected to miss out due to injury. Palace are also likely to shuffle their pack in this encounter before next Saturday’s Premier League fixture versus Ten Hag’s side.
Man Utd haven’t had a great recent record against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford as they have managed to win only two games in the last five encounters. United even suffered a defeat versus the Eagles when they met last time in this competition back in 2011. So, Ten Hag’s side will be looking to beat Palace this time around and progress through to the next round. Man Utd 2-1 Crystal Palace
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