Manchester United’s struggles under Erik ten Hag in 2023

Manchester United’s recent performance: Manchester United was recently defeated by Newcastle United at Old Trafford in the League Cup. It has been a difficult period for the club, losing 8 of their 15 games in all competitions. This was the worst start to a season since the 1962-63 season.

Ten Hag’s perspective: Erik Ten Hag admitted that the team’s performance was not up to the standards he expected. “It’s not good enough,” he was quoted as saying. He also talked about the difficulties the team was experiencing and pointed out that the starting 11 had to constantly change. He emphasized that they had a solid backfour last year, which allowed them to control games. However, frequent changes at the back this season have also led to adjustments in midfield, leading to a struggle to find the right balance​

Leadership style: Ten Hag’s leadership style is under scrutiny. Although he was previously known for his tough approach, his “tough guy demeanor” no longer seems to resonate with players. During matches, he kept a narrow emotional range, unlike other managers who showed more variable reactions. This stoic attitude, combined with the team’s poor performance, became a matter of controversy

Historical context: Manchester United has faced challenges over the past decade. It has been 10 years since they won the Premier League title under Sir Alex Ferguson. Since Ferguson’s retirement, the club has suffered a dip in form and Manchester City has emerged as the dominant team.

Organizational challenges: Discontent is growing among fans, mainly with the Glazers, who have owned the club since 2005. The club was put up for sale in 2022, but the sale was postponed due to disagreements over valuation.

Interactions with players: The Ten Hag’s heavy-handed approach includes punishing Cristiano Ronaldo, sidelining Jadon Sancho for insufficient training, and stripping Harry Maguire of the captaincy. While these decisions were once seen as strengths, they are now seen by some as weaknesses, particularly due to the lack of a clear playstyle established in their place.

Ultimately, Manchester United’s struggles under Erik ten Hag in 2023 stem from a combination of on-field performance issues, managerial decisions, historical context, and larger organizational challenges. As the future remains uncertain, it is clear that both the manager and team are under serious pressure to turn things around.