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How Erik ten Hag can win another trophy next season

Erik ten Hag survived a dramatic second season in charge of Manchester United, avoiding the axe by the skin of his teeth.

Sky Sports’ latest column details how the club decided to stick with him after completing their end-of-season review.

Avenging an FA Cup heartache against Manchester City in the 2023/24 showpiece threw the Dutch manager a lifeline at Old Trafford.

However, another sub-par Premier League campaign could signal the end of the 54-year-old’s topsy-turvy regime.

Man United’s underwhelming eighth-place finish didn’t go down well with the Theatre of Dreams faithful.

It was the club’s worst result in the Premier League era, highlighting the pressure on the ex-Ajax manager’s shoulders ahead of 2024/25.

Expecting Ten Hag to steer the Red Devils back into the title frame would be a tall order, but a top-four finish is a realistic target.

While the 20-time English champions are unlikely to close the gap on the league title contenders, that doesn’t mean they can’t pursue silverware elsewhere.

Europa League glory is well within reach

Although most Premier League clubs see Europe’s second-tier competition as a distraction, it’s still a valuable opportunity for silverware and a potential route to the Champions League.

Liverpool fumbled a chance to lift the trophy last season as Atalanta thumped them in the quarter-finals, underscoring the tournament’s competitiveness.

It should be a solid motivation for Man United to pay more attention to their continental commitments, especially after last campaign’s horrendous Champions League showing.

United won the prize in 2016/17 under Jose Mourinho before embarking on a dreadful six-year title drought, ended by Ten Hag in his maiden season in England.

Despite his struggles in the Premier League, the Dutchman has won a trophy in each of his first two years at Man United, and maybe it’s time to make a standout result on the continental front.

Transfer dealings critical

Poor decisions in the transfer market have become United’s Achilles heel in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era.

From Harry Maguire to Jadon Sancho, the Red Devils have splashed out hundreds of millions of pounds on ill-fitting acquisitions.

Nothing changed last summer as the mega-money additions of Andre Onana, Mason Mount and Rasmus Hojlund largely failed to live up to the billing.

It’s time to put an end to it.

According to German news outlet Bild, the Red Devils have enquired about TSG Hoffenheim forward Maximilian Beier amid growing interest from Liverpool and Brentford, among others.

That’s precisely the kind of deal Man United should avoid this summer.

United must aspire to players of a specific stature and different mindset to restore their former glory.

Tactical flexibility

Ten Hag’s insistence on building from the back and pointless lengthy spells of possession often got to supporters’ nerves in 2023/24.

It was the only reason he cast David de Gea away and brought in Onana from Inter Milan. But the Cameroonian had numerous shaky moments in his first season in Manchester.

Truth be told, it wasn’t entirely his fault.

Long-term injuries to Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varaned had often depleted Ten Hag’s defensive options, forcing him to change his line-up almost every game.

But if United’s star players can ensure an optimal fitness level and consistency, there’s a feeling the Dutchman’s tactical ideas could come to fruition and bring the fans the success they crave.

His tactical masterstroke in the FA Cup final bamboozled one of the greatest coaching minds in football history, with Pep Guardiola struggling to find answers to Ten Hag’s well-executed game plan.

Again, it’s a matter of consistency.

Man United must find a way to perform at a high level every week, rather than just in isolated matches, to compete for top honours.

That will heavily depend on the upcoming recruitment campaign and standout stars staying healthy.

The rest is on Ten Hag, who can turn the club’s fortunes around under the proper conditions.

This article was written by .

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