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Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag can make clear to Sir Jim Ratcliffe that he can be a long-term success at Old Trafford by winning Sunday’s Manchester derby. The Red Devils face rivals Manchester City having spent the last decade being outperformed by their far superior neighbours.
But there is set to be sweeping change at United over the coming months. British billionaire Ratcliffe is widely expected to have a bid for 25 per cent of the flailing Premier League giants ratified in the near future.
Ratcliffe will take over the football operation of the club if his bid is successful. The 70-year-old will likely make many personnel changes to the hierarchy, with reports suggesting that the job of CEO Richard Arnold is at risk.
Ten Hag may naturally feel nervous, too, given United’s underperformance this season. The Dutchman’s side are eighth in the Premier League after four defeats in their opening nine matches.
It has been an underwhelming start to the campaign for United and Ten Hag after last season’s relative success of finishing fourth and winning the Carabao Cup. Many expected the Red Devils to kick on, especially after a £150million summer spending spree.
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But victory over City would lift the atmosphere at Old Trafford ahead of Ratcliffe’s impending arrival. It would also signal clear improvement, with United having won their last three games. Three more points would provide evidence to Ratcliffe that Ten Hag is guiding United in the right direction.
The Red Devils boss will need a major performance from his side to overcome City. But they will take confidence from a 2-1 victory over Pep Guardiola’s side at Old Trafford back in January, in addition to a battling display in their FA Cup final in May.
Ten Hag has demanded more from his forwards ahead of the game. “We’re not consistent in possession at the level we can be, where we show we can be like we were at Arsenal away or in the first 20 minutes away to Bayern Munich,” the 53-year-old said.
“For instance, pressing, we’re quite good. We have the most ball regains in the whole Premier League and the most middle regains in the whole Premier League. So there you see our defending and our pressing organisation.
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“But we don’t take advantage from our attacking transition moments and we should do because we have the players in our team, who can do that.
“We’ve paid some attention to it and this has to grow, it has to progress, then games will become more easy. The cooperation has to click and we showed this week some examples where we have many overload positions and going to the opponents’ goal and we don’t net or even hit the target. We should do better. I’m convinced that with the qualities of our players, they will go and score more goals.”
Beating City and getting the likes of Marcus Rashford and Rasmus Hojlund firing would help Ten Hag prove to Ratcliffe that he can be the man for the job in the long term.
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