Erik ten Hag faces challenge to fix Manchester United’s defensive crisis

Manchester United have been struggling defensively this season, conceding 17 goals in 12 Premier League games and losing four of their last six matches in all competitions. The Red Devils have looked vulnerable at the back, with individual errors, poor positioning and lack of cohesion costing them dearly.

With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sacked and Erik ten Hag appointed as the new manager, the Dutchman faces a daunting task of improving United’s defensive record and restoring confidence to a shaky backline. Here are four options that ten Hag could consider to fix Manchester United’s defensive crisis.

1. Switch to a back three

One of the possible solutions that ten Hag could try is to switch to a back three formation, which he has used successfully at Ajax in the past. A back three could provide more stability and cover for United’s defenders, as well as allowing them to play out from the back more effectively.

Ten Hag could use Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof as his central trio, with Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka as wing-backs. Alternatively, he could bring in Eric Bailly or Phil Jones for more pace and physicality, or Alex Telles or Diogo Dalot for more attacking threat on the flanks.

Erik ten Hag faces challenge to fix Manchester United's defensive crisis

Source: manchestereveningnews

2. Drop Harry Maguire

Another option that ten Hag could explore is to drop Harry Maguire from the starting lineup. The United captain has been underwhelming this season, making several costly mistakes and failing to lead by example.

Maguire has also been struggling with fitness and form issues, having missed several games due to injury and suspension. Ten Hag could opt to bench Maguire and give more opportunities to Bailly or Jones, who have shown more urgency and aggression in defence.

Alternatively, he could move Maguire to a different position, such as defensive midfield or left-back, where he could use his aerial ability and passing range.

3. Sign a new defender in January

A third option that ten Hag could consider is to sign a new defender in the January transfer window. United have been linked with several defensive targets in recent months, such as Kieran Trippier, Jules Kounde, Matthijs de Ligt and Kalidou Koulibaly.

Ten Hag could use his contacts and reputation to lure one of these players to Old Trafford, or scout for other potential options in the market. A new defender could add quality, depth and competition to United’s defence, as well as bringing a fresh perspective and mentality.

4. Improve the defensive coaching and tactics

A fourth option that ten Hag could try is to improve the defensive coaching and tactics at United. The former Ajax boss is known for his meticulous attention to detail and tactical flexibility, which could benefit United’s defenders immensely.

Ten Hag could work on improving the defensive shape, organisation and communication of his players, as well as implementing a clear pressing system and a high defensive line. He could also instill more discipline and accountability in his players, demanding more concentration and commitment from them.

These are some of the options that Erik ten Hag has to fix Manchester United’s worrying defensive crisis. The new manager will have a tough challenge ahead of him, but he has the experience and expertise to turn things around.

He will need the support of the fans, the board and the players to succeed at United, but he has shown that he can work wonders with limited resources and high expectations.

Final Thoughts: Erik ten Hag faces a daunting task to improve Manchester United’s defence

Erik ten Hag has inherited a Manchester United team that is struggling defensively, and his task is to fix the issues that have plagued the Red Devils for several seasons. The Dutchman has a wealth of experience and tactical nous, but he will need to be pragmatic and flexible in his approach to turn things around.

The options presented, such as switching to a back three or signing a new defender, could potentially help United to improve defensively, but they come with their own challenges and risks. For instance, a new defender may take time to adapt to the Premier League, and a back three may require a significant change in tactics and personnel.

Moreover, dropping Harry Maguire may not be a popular move, given his status as the captain of the team and his recent performances for England. Ten Hag will need to manage the egos and emotions of his players carefully, while also demanding more from them in terms of discipline, focus and teamwork.

Ultimately, the success of ten Hag’s tenure at United will depend on his ability to instill a winning mentality and a sense of identity in the team. He will need to find the right balance between attack and defence, while also developing a style of play that suits the strengths and weaknesses of his players.

In conclusion, Erik ten Hag has a tough challenge ahead of him to fix Manchester United’s worrying defensive crisis, but he has the tools and the expertise to succeed. With the right approach, he could transform United into a formidable force in the Premier League and beyond.