MANCHESTER UNITED are among the first Premier League clubs to return to pre-season training on Monday.
And maybe that’s because they have more work to do than any of their competitors.
New boss Erik ten Hag isn’t letting the grass grow under his feet – literally – after ordering the lawn to be trimmed at their Carrington headquarters.
But the same cannot be said for those behind the scenes as the summer transfer market breakthrough is yet to come five weeks after last season ended.
The sight of about 15 first-team players checking back in for the 2022/23 season after their holidays is unlikely to whet the appetite of disgruntled fans.
After all, it’s a team that finished in a distant sixth place most recently – minus some notable departures.
Despite falling just short of Europa Conference League infamy, their 58 point total was their worst record in 32 years.
That was 13 points shy of qualifying for the Champions League – their minimum pre-season target – and a whopping 35 points shy of the top.
Not to mention that the Red Devils have conceded the most goals in a league season (57) since 1978-79.
New CEO Richard Arnold admitted last season was a “fucking nightmare” and that he “hated every minute of it”. He wasn’t the only one.
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Ten Hag, 52, comes with a good reputation after working in Holland in recent years, but he’s no miracle worker.
What they desperately needed was a big signature or two to dispel some of the darkness over Old Trafford – and so far there have been none.
Word is that Cristiano Ronaldo is increasingly frustrated by the lack of new faces and worried about what the new season may bring.
Many of the United supporters are currently sharing the same sentiments.
Big-name players like Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic have all left with expired contracts.
Many tears will not flow over any of them. But so far nobody has come to replace her, despite the fact that the club is linked with more than a hundred players.
Meanwhile, Manchester City’s neighbors have been busy snapping up Erling Haaland and also agreeing a deal for Kalvin Phillips.
The fact that both were previously Red Devils targets makes that hard for Old Trafford believers to swallow.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the striker they wanted this summer, Darwin Nunez, has ended up at another of their rivals – Liverpool.
In fact, they now feel their summer transfer deals at Anfield have been wrapped up, while United’s have yet to get off the ground.
The signing of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong is drawing near, while the club are also hoping for a positive response from Christian Eriksen in the coming days.
Besides, they need a few more. But if Ten Hag could have both on the plane when United embark on a pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia next Friday, that would at least be a start.
De Jong, 25, will know what to expect having worked alongside the new United manager during their days together at Ajax.
Perhaps midfielder Donny van de Beek – back at United after his disappointing loan spell at Everton – is also ready, having also worked with Ten Hag in Holland.
However, the rest of the squad, including Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial, could be in for a rude awakening if they report for pre-season today.
Sources close to Ten Hag predict they will spend many hours on the training ground in the first few weeks ahead.
When he took over at Ajax in 2017, his players were appalled at the workload he was putting on them, although it paid off in the long run.
He wants players to embrace his ‘total football’ philosophy – similar to that made famous by Dutch icon Johan Cruyff in the 1970s.
And he will want United to attack as a team in one fluid motion, with defense starting over.
Anyone who doesn’t believe in the system could quickly find themselves out in the cold – and headed for the exit door at Old Trafford.
While in charge of the Go Ahead Eagles, Taskmaster Ten Hag had beds set up at the club’s training ground so players could take a quick nap between grueling practice sessions.
Now he will start waking United from their slumber.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/football/premier-league/5644145/man-utd-transfers-erik-ten-hag-fans-worried-comment/ Man Utd players are back in training but fans have every right to worry if there are no signings for Erik ten Hag