Maybe Ralph Rangnick was right after all.
Perhaps Manchester United need an “open heart operation” to fix all the problems plaguing the English soccer giants.
That was the clearest diagnosis given by then United caretaker manager Rangnick in April, as he prepared to hand over management to Erik ten Haag ahead of the season.
In the face of two painful Premier League games, Ten Haag should already be very clear about the disaster he has faced.
Players below their level are – and in some cases – demoted. A poorly managed template. They were unable to sign reinforcements of their choice. The American owners who are hated by their fans.
Meanwhile, Ten Haag has complicated his position with a number of questionable decisions in his first weeks in England.
“Garbage”. It was one of the words that described Dutchman United’s disastrous performance as they lost 4-0 at Brentford on Saturday, the latest fiasco in the club’s recent history.
Moments after the final whistle, as the home crowd celebrated one of his team’s most spectacular results, Ten Haag was stunned by what had happened.
Ten Haag didn’t flinch when a straight-faced Cristiano Ronaldo passed by or when fans started chanting that he’d be fired the next day.
Sunday was a rest day for United, but Ten Haag insisted he report to training. Sky Sports reported that the manager demanded that his players run 13.8km, the same distance as their rival on Saturday.
It’s still early days for the Ten Haag era but problems continue to mount, some of their own making.
For example, why does Christian Eriksen – a creative midfielder – play as a false nine in the 2-1 home defeat to Brighton on the opening weekend and then as a late midfielder against Brentford?
Was Lisandro Martínez, a very diminutive central defender, a prudent investment considering the physical demands in the premiership at around $58 million? The Argentine was overwhelmed against Brentford and was subbed off after the first half.
And why is Harry Maguire, faltering with his confidence, still captaining United when he shouldn’t even be in the limelight?
In any case, Ten Haag did not receive help from his bosses.
It is inconceivable how United have started the season without signing a brand midfielder, a situation in which they have been looking for a solution for years. It is believed that they will not be able to bring in Frankie de Jong, despite the fact that they have been trying to acquire the Barcelona midfielder throughout the summer. It seems he will have no choice but to stick with Fred and Scott McTominay.
He needs reinforcements in almost all areas of the team, especially in attack. There is still uncertainty surrounding Cristiano, who asked for a transfer to another club in the summer. Despite his scoring prowess, the Portuguese star doesn’t fill the all-terrain player profile that Ten Haag prefers in his teams.