Erik ten Hag made his mark at Manchester United in the 2022/23 campaign after guiding the Red Devils to their first silverware in six years with a Carabao Cup triumph.
Not much was expected from the Dutch manager in his debut campaign, considering the state of the club when he took over.
But he has proven his tactical pedigree at Old Trafford, and the fans can look to the future with renewed hope.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding their ownership, Man United have moved swiftly this summer to plug the holes in the squad, handing Ten Hag a competitive team as they prepare to challenge for every available title this season.
After finishing in the top four last season, their priority will be to give Manchester City a run for their money. However, toppling the defending champions will be a difficult task.
Here is our Man United season preview for 2023/24. You can also check out our detailed Premier League season previews for all 20 teams.
Ten Hag’s side take on Wolverhampton Wanderers in their Premier League curtain raiser on August 14 before facing Tottenham Hotspur (A) and Nottingham Forest (H) in the following two Matchdays.
Man United travel to Arsenal at the start of September before hosting the first Manchester derby of the season against Man City on October 28.
In December, Man United will face a challenging seven-match schedule, taking on the likes of Newcastle United (A), Chelsea (H), Liverpool (A), and Aston Villa (H), putting their top-four aspirations to the test.
Man United and Man City will renew hostilities at the Etihad Stadium on March 2. Then Ten Hag’s side end the season with a tricky run of fixtures against Crystal Palace (A), Arsenal (H) and Brighton & Hove Albion (A).
Ten Hag has built a reputation as one of the most astute tacticians in European football and has rewarded the faith of the Man United hierarchy with a long-awaited trophy.
However, the ultimate goal remains closing the gap with their next-door rivals, Man City, who are determined to make English football history this season.
Man United’s recruitment drive demonstrates their commitment to providing Ten Hag with the necessary resources to compete on all fronts, and they will back themselves to join the title race this year.
Last season, the Red Devils were favourites to win the Europa League, particularly after defeating Barcelona in the play-off round. But they were ultimately eliminated by eventual winners Sevilla in the quarter-finals.
While the Champions League presents a different challenge, Ten Hag’s experience in the competition should ensure that Man United advances far. However, winning the title could be too much to ask.
Before the season begins, Ten Hag will need to address a few internal concerns. Nevertheless, it will be fascinating to see whether Man United can give Man City and Arsenal a run for their money.
Man United entered the transfer window with a striker as the priority, but they have yet to finally land a capable candidate to fire them to further success.
Renewing Rashford’s contract may be the most significant piece of business this summer, considering he single-handedly fired them to success last term, registering 30 goals across all competitions.
However, they still need to sign a striker to bolster their goalscoring options, and a deal to sign Rasmus Hojlund, who has been touted as the next big thing in European football, is in the works.
The Red Devils have already spent north of £100 million on Mason Mount and Andre Onana, but additional signings are expected, with a deal for Sofyan Amrabat also being finalised.
David De Gea is the only notable exit from Man United this summer. But Ten Hag still needs to decide what to do with players like Harry Maguire, Fred, Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay, whose futures hang in the balance.
Whether or not Onana will prove to be a downgrade from De Gea remains to be seen, but the Cameroonian’s on-the-ball ability was a driving force in his recruitment.
While Onana replaces De Gea between the sticks, Tom Heaton will provide back-up.
Ten Hag will have to decide who features at right back, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Diogo Dalot going head-to-head for a starting spot.
However, based on their pre-season performances, we expect Wan-Bissaka to complete the back four alongside Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, and Luke Shaw.
Casemiro and Christian Eriksen complimented each other last term, and the pair are unlikely to be disrupted except in cases of suspension or injuries.
However, Amrabat’s potential arrival could give Ten Hag something to consider, with the Moroccan expected to replace Fred and play second fiddle to Casemiro.
Rashford is expected to start on the left wing, handing the number nine responsibilities to Hojlund. Club captain Bruno Fernandes plays behind the striker while Antony takes up his accustomed role on the right wing.
Here is our prediction for Man United’s strongest starting XI next season based on the currently available squad:
4-2-3-1: Onana; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Shaw; Casemiro, Eriksen; Rashford, Fernandes, Antony; Hojlund.
All eyes will be on Rashford to once again deliver the goods following his remarkable goal-scoring record last term.
The 25-year-old finished the season as the club’s top scorer in every competition except the FA Cup, where he was out-performed by Fernandes, who struck three times as they reached the final.
The Portuguese playmaker is expected to play a vital role in the midfield, pulling the strings for the team. He was ever-present for the Red Devils last season, registering 14 goals and 15 assists in 59 outings.
Mount will also have a point to prove after receiving backlash for ditching his boyhood club for their direct rivals. Meanwhile, Sancho will be eager to redeem himself following his underwhelming performance and expensive price tag.
Last season’s exploits raised expectations amongst Man United fans, but they would be wise not to get too far ahead of themselves.
They will undoubtedly want to see their side compete for the Premier League title, but there is still a significant gap to close compared to Man City.
However, the Red Devils have what it takes to challenge Arsenal for the runner-up spot, especially if they make a solid start to the campaign.
Although they still have a way to go to become serious Champions League contenders, it would be silly to write them off before the ball is kicked.
On the other hand, they have a more realistic chance of winning silverware in domestic tournaments.
They should be able to retain their Carabao Cup crown while the FA Cup is also not out of their grasp, having reached the final last term.
Predicted finish: 2nd
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