Simulating Erik Ten Hag at Man Utd

Erik Ten Hag has joined Manchester United as the club’s new manager, replacing Ralf Rangnick, so we put him on the Football Manager 2022 hotseat to see how he fares.

The Dutchman has arrived from Ajax and is set to correct some mistakes after his dismal run under the caretaker at Old Trafford.

United eventually ended the season in sixth place, 13 points behind Tottenham Hotspur in fourth place and 35 points behind champions Manchester City.

It’s been a really dark campaign and Ten Hag is hoping to bounce back at United.

We used the Football Manager 2022 Editor to bring Ten Hag to United and to add some realism we also included Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest in the Premier League while relegating Norwich City, Watford and Burnley.

Let’s take a look at how Ten Hag fared in his first season at United!


Who did Manchester United buy in the summer window?

United didn’t exactly spend much as they tried to strengthen their squad under Ten Hag.

They initially paid £3.4million to sign ex-Spurs youngster Samuel Shashoua, although he is firmly focused on the future and has been loaned to Hamburg for the season.

United then paid £34.5million to sign Mauro Icardi from PSG before buying two other youngsters in January: Marcelo Allende and Christoph Klarer from MC Torque and Fortuna Düsseldorf respectively.

That’s it for signings.

Ahead of the new season, however, United beat a host of rivals to sign Benfica’s Darwin Nunez for £46million, paying the same amount to sign full-back Owen Wijndal from AZ Alkmaar.

The club barely made any sales, although both Phil Jones and Eric Bailly were on loan.


How did the first half of the season go?

They were terribly inconsistent.

In their first 21 games of the season in all competitions, United won seven of them. They drew five of them and lost nine.

Things aren’t looking good for Ten Hag.


How did the second half go?

Something clicked.

United lost just five more games all season and put on a relatively impressive run from late January to the end of the season.

They lost just twice in league to Chelsea and Leeds United, winning 15 games including a 12-game unbeaten run in the top flight.

Arguably their most impressive result of that run was the 2-1 win over Arsenal.


Did United win anything?

no

United remain trophyless even under Ten Hag’s management.

They were knocked out of the FA Cup by Liverpool in the fifth round, losing 2-0 at Old Trafford after extra time.

They were humiliated in the League Cup, losing on penalties to Luton Town from the lower division in the third round.

United were terrible in the Champions League.

They didn’t win a single group game, losing 1-0 at home to AC Milan, 3-1 away to Bayern Munich and being beaten home and away by Porto. They’ve rallied to a draw against both Milan and Bayern in their last two games, but finished bottom of their group and didn’t even fall into the Europa League.

They ended up third in the league thanks to that late-season rally that may have kept Ten Hag in the job.


What tactics did Ten Hag use?

Next, Man United manager Erik ten Hag pays tribute to the fans

It was a 4-2-3-1 formation, so we have to assume ETH has played Football Manager before!

David de Gea was his first-choice goalkeeper while he deployed a back four of Diogo Dalot, Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane and Luke Shaw.

Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba were a double turner in midfield, with Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford playing behind Cristiano Ronaldo.

This is very similar to United’s tactics now, with Icardi clearly being used as a striker substitute.


Did United deserve their top four result?

Yes.

But in the end the league was pretty weak.

They took 78 points overall, 24 points behind eventual champions Manchester City; They were also six points behind second-placed Liverpool.

United may have finished six points ahead of Chelsea, but their pursuers were remarkably weak.

Leicester City finished fifth but had just 56 points, 16 adrift of the top-4.

Ten Hag was clearly helped by how poor the rest of the top pages were.


Did he do a good job?

New Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag outside Selhurst Park

You have to say yes.

He hasn’t won anything but he has brought United back to the Champions League and the second half of the season will have given fans reason to be optimistic.

United are ready to inject the cash and are likely to do so again as they look to get back in the title race, which they have come a long way from this season.


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