Five big issues facing new Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag

The big and loaded question: can the manager actually wield enough influence over the beast that is Manchester United to do it his way? This is a chicken-egg conundrum because winning games and trophies convinces players and the executive but conviction is required from players and the executive for the manager to have his decisions backed and to be a winning No 1.

Then there is the club’s particular Byzantine brew of politics and peccadilloes. At United, Richard Arnold is the chief executive but the real power lies across the Atlantic – the six Glazer siblings who own United and reside in Florida.

Joel Glazer may be the day-to-day, hands-on chief of the owners but any major decision has to be signed off by Avram, Darcie, Kevin, Bryan and Edward, who are also directors.

This vote-by-committee via a five-hour, stateside time lag is hardly slick and streamlined, particularly when the depth of the owners’ collective football knowledge is unclear.

Then there is Erik ten Hag’s main point of contact: John Murtough, the football director, who is a year into his role. Can Murtough be the Txiki Begiristain (Manchester City’s seriously astute sporting director) to the Dutchman’s (hopeful) Pep Guardiola?

Cristiano Ronaldo
At 37 years old, there is no way the Portuguese forward can remain an automatic choice if Ten Hag is going to build a team. The question is whether Ronaldo can be let go – not whether he should. A £490,000-a-week salary means there may be zero takers but if a loan can be struck – Paris Saint-Germain, if Kylian Mbappé goes to Real Madrid, maybe? – the Ronaldo problem may be solved.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s major error was to agree to the signing: the money siphoned off for a two-year contract – about £50 million – could have been invested elsewhere and a squad that was supposed to be young, progressive and fleet-footed would not have been hampered by a footballer who is no longer any of these and is not conducive to long-term success.

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