Roy Keane and Jamie Carragher have both suggested that Erik ten Hag lacks the charisma required to extract the very best from his Manchester United players. The Red Devils have endured a turbulent campaign to date, crashing out of the Champions League in the group stages and falling eight points adrift of the Premier League’s top four.
United have only managed to win 10 league games and will likely miss out on European football next season unless Ten Hag can turn things around as a matter of urgency. Keane believes that United’s players could benefit from a change in attitude from their manager, urging him to take a leaf from Jurgen Klopp’s book by showing more charisma.
“Sometimes the team can reflect the attitude of the manager,” said Keane on the Stick to Football podcast by Sky Bet. “You see Klopp up and at them, but you do listen to the Manchester United manager, and you think, I just want to see a bit more personality from him and the team sometimes reflect that.
“Manchester United are missing something. A bit of belief, confidence, chopping and changing where they are lacking goals. It doesn’t matter what team you’re playing for, you end up in no man’s land. They aren’t a pressing team, they aren’t brilliant at dominating, they are not a brilliant physical team, they aren’t unbelievable at set pieces.”
Keane’s view on the topic was echoed by Carragher, who compared Ten Hag to former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez in his assessment of the Dutchman’s character. He said: “My worry with Ten Hag is that when I was looking at him last season, he reminded me a bit of Rafa Benitez.
“He didn’t have great charisma. In press conferences he’s very straight and looked like he didn’t want to be there. Benitez was similar, but he was top drawer on the training pitch. I thought that was Ten Hag last season when United were doing well, that he really knows the game but hasn’t got a huge personality, so if he’s not getting stuff on the pitch tactically well, then there isn’t much else because I don’t see the players loving him or him lifting their game.”
Arsenal legend Ian Wright went on to question Ten Hag’s tactical approach, suggesting that he may be caught in two minds when it comes to implementing his preferred style of play. The Red Devils have lacked a clear identity ever since Ten Hag was appointed to replace Ralf Rangnick two years ago, which has been one of their biggest criticisms over the course of this season.
“[Ten Hag] came in and was possession based and that’s how he played,” explained Wright. “I think that after the Brentford game they changed. He went to transition and when the summer came you are thinking OK, he’s going to go back to how it was, but he’s still transitioning.
“Then he’s saying he wants them to be the best transition team in the world, but if you’re a transition team you’re meant to be scoring. They are not scoring enough. They just don’t control games.”
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