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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Graeme Souness identifies four Man Utd players who have not ‘massively improved team’ under Erik ten Hag

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Liverpool legend Graeme Souness has claimed that four signings under Erik ten Hag have not “massively improved” Manchester United during the Dutchman’s spell at the club.

Ten Hag, who has been under pressure in the current campaign, was hailed for his impact in his first season in charge at United after arriving from Ajax in 2022.

The 53-year-old Dutch manager led the club to the Carabao Cup trophy — United’s first major honour in six years — and to an FA Cup final against Manchester City.

United also finished third in the Premier League table — behind second-place Arsenal and champions City — last season and secured a return to the Champions League.

Ten Hag started his squad rebuild in 2022 with the addition of several new signings, including Casemiro, Tyrell Malacia, Antony, Lisandro Martinez and Christian Eriksen.

The United boss continued his squad revamp in the 2023 summer window with the permanent arrivals of Andre Onana, Rasmus Hojlund and Mason Mount.

READ MORE: Sir Alex Ferguson’s telling reaction to legendary Man United figure’s sudden retirement

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Souness takes aim at four United players

Speaking in his column for The Daily Mail, Souness offered his verdict on Ineos billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s desire to pay £1.3bn for a 25 per cent stake in United.

While Souness claimed that Ratcliffe has a “mountain to climb” at United, the former Sky Sports pundit pulled no punches towards Antony, Martinez, Onana and Malacia.

“I read in this newspaper a couple of days ago that Erik ten Hag has welcomed the arrival of Ratcliffe because he is frustrated with recruitment,” he wrote.

“I’m sorry, but the manager doesn’t get a free pass. His three former Ajax players he has signed at a cost of £170million — Antony, Lisandro Martinez and Andre Onana — were his picks, and I’m sure Tyrell Malacia from Feyenoord would also have been.

“I don’t think any [of] them have massively improved the team, so Ten Hag cannot absolve himself from recruitment issues.

“Ratcliffe will know all of these challenges that lie ahead. When I met him, he ended up buying Nice.

“I’m not sure Nice have improved under his stewardship, but the experience will serve him well.”

Souness is wrong about United signings

Souness is clearly overlooking the time that each United signing has been at the club and the impact that some players have already had under Ten Hag so far.

Martinez, who is currently ruled out with injury, made a superb impact in his debut season at United and forged a solid partnership with teammate Raphael Varane.

Antony has been criticised since his £81.3m move from Ajax, but Ten Hag has faith in the 23-year-old Brazilian winger and the United star still needs time to settle in.

Speaking of settling in, Onana has big boots to fill as David de Gea’s replacement and has come under mounting pressure this season over a series of mistakes.

However, the 27-year-old Cameroonian shot-stopper only arrived at Old Trafford in the summer and it’s way too early to write off Onana’s United career.

Malacia, who is currently out of action, has impressed during different performances for United and has added much-needed competition for Luke Shaw at left-back.

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