CHRIS WHEELER: Jadon Sancho’s criticisms and Antony’s domestic abuse allegations are the problems facing Erik ten Hag… but the Dutch boss is used to issues at Man United
- Erik ten Hag is set to hold clear-the-air talks with United winger Jadon Sancho
- Brazilian star Antony has been accused, by his ex-girlfriend, of domestic abuse
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast It’s All Kicking Off
Jadon Sancho’s public fallout with Erik ten Hag and the allegations of domestic abuse levelled at Antony are the latest problems to hit Manchester United at the start of the new season.
Ten Hag is looking to build on a third-place finish and Carabao Cup success in his first year at Old Trafford, but the Dutchman has faced a number of issues on and off the pitch.
Two defeats in the first four games are reminiscent of Ten Hag’s dreadful start as United manager a year ago when he lost his opening two fixtures to Brighton and Brentford.
He steadied the ship then and will be confident of doing so again, but United need to find their form and fast.
Sunday’s defeat at Arsenal continued United’s wretched away form – particularly against their Big Six rivals – following the loss at Tottenham, and the home wins over Wolves and Nottingham Forest were far from convincing.
Erik ten Hag has had to overcome numerous obstacles since taking charge at Man United
The Dutchman has been dealt some fresh issues after Jadon Sancho’s (left) public criticisms and the domestic abuse allegations facing Brazil international Antony (right)
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Ten Hag has been careful not to talk up his team as title challengers despite bringing in seven players at a total cost of £195million, and it’s just as well because United look well off the early pace as they trail Manchester City by six points.
Worryingly for Ten Hag, the next fixture after the international break is a replay of his first game in charge last season against a vibrant Brighton.
It will be followed by a Champions League Group A opener away to Bayern Munich when Harry Kane will have a point to prove after United gave up their bid to sign him from Tottenham this summer and bought Rasmus Hojlund instead.
The new season is usually the time when managers can pick from predominantly fit squads but United have been rocked by a spate of injuries.
New £72m signing Hojlund arrived with a back problem that has limited him to just 23 minutes of action so far, and £60m recruit Mason Mount has missed the last two games.
Ten Hag’s defence has been decimated after Luke Shaw was ruled out for up to 10 weeks, joining United’s other left-back Tyrell Malacia on the sidelines and forcing the club to sign Sergio Reguilon on loan.
Raphael Varane is out for several weeks and missed the Arsenal defeat on Sunday when Lisandro Martinez and Victor Lindelof failed to finish the game due to injury and illness respectively.
Ten Hag is already without emerging midfield talent Kobbie Mainoo and back-up goalkeeper Tom Heaton who were injured before the start of the season.
Mason Mount (left) and Luke Shaw (right) have both been sidelined for United in recent weeks
Andre Onana’s announcement on Monday that he is making an international comeback with Cameroon means that United’s new £47.2m keeper could be missing for up to seven games at the Africa Cup of Nations at the start of next year when on-loan midfielder Sofyan Amrabat will also be on duty for Morocco.
Trouble at the top
Ten Hag insists the tortuous takeover saga at Old Trafford is not a distraction for his players, but it continues to cast a cloud over the club.
There have been fresh anti-Glazer protests over the owners’ refusal to sell up, and the situation will only deteriorate if the Americans try to cling onto power for another two years before putting United on the market again.
Ten Hag may continue to brush it off but the uncertainty at the top is having a destabilising effect throughout the club.
Manchester United’s divisive Glazer owners are set to remove the club from the market
United insisted on conducting a thorough investigation into Mason Greenwood after the Crown Prosecution Service dropped charges of attempted rape and assault against the player in February, but it meant that the issue was allowed to drag into a third season and overshadow the start of the new campaign.
Ten Hag has faced more awkward questions over another off-the-field controversy out of his control, while United’s aborted plan to bring back Greenwood led to a public backlash and fierce criticism.
The 21-year-old forward has not played any competitive football since January last year
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