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Manchester United face pivotal summer after disappointing season

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Manchester United went into the 2023/24 season with high hopes of building on a promising first year under manager Erik ten Hag.

However, things have not gone to plan. The Red Devils made early exits from the Champions League and League Cup, while their form in the Premier League has left much to be desired.

United could still salvage something from the season by winning the FA Cup, although defeating local rivals Manchester City at Wembley Stadium will not be easy.

Regardless of what happens in the final on May 25, the club has some major decisions to make this summer, starting with Ten Hag’s future.

Tuchel an Intriguing Alternative to Ten Hag

Ten Hag’s tenure at United has been a rollercoaster ride. His first season offered a glimmer of hope with some progress, but the second season has been underwhelming.

In his defence, the former Ajax boss has had to deal with numerous injuries to key players. He has struggled to implement his tactics and field his best players consistently.

Ten Hag has used this situation as an opportunity to field several teenagers in the first team, which will undoubtedly pay massive dividends in the long run.

Winning the FA Cup would boost Ten Hag’s chances of staying at Old Trafford, but his future would look bleak if United fail to lift the trophy.

Erik ten Hag

Manchester United’s Dutch manager Erik ten Hag gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match.

One factor which may keep Ten Hag in the job is the lack of viable alternatives – the options are so thin on the ground that England manager Gareth Southgate has been touted for the role.

United are reportedly considering bringing former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel back to England. The German is set to leave Bayern Munich at the end of the season.

The former Mainz 05 and Borussia Dortmund manager is reportedly open to joining United despite his connection to Chelsea, where he won several major trophies.

A case can be made for him to be a solid alternative to Ten Hag. He outwitted his Dutch counterpart on both occasions in the Champions League this season.

Tuchel is a master tactician who excels in cup competitions. His record speaks for itself, and his ability to adapt tactics and get the best out of his players is undeniable.

However, his penchant for falling out with his bosses makes him a risky proposition for a club which desperately needs some stability.

On that basis, Ten Hag deserves the opportunity to demonstrate that he can build on his first couple of seasons in the hot-seat.

Summer Recruitment will be Crucial to United’s Hopes of Success

The upcoming transfer window will be crucial for United. Several areas in the squad need reinforcements and the club must get their recruitment spot on.

United desperately need a striker to provide competition for Rasmus Hojlund. He has looked promising in his first season with the club, but cannot carry the scoring burden on his own.

Brighton & Hove Albion and Republic of Ireland striker Evan Ferguson is a viable option. The Irishman has bags of potential despite struggling this season, and United should look to take advantage by signing him for a cheaper fee.

Ferguson would potentially bolster his numbers playing ahead of creative maestro Bruno Fernandes. With the Irish star in their squad, United would also become a more attractive proposition to sports bettors.

Manchester United’s Dutch manager Erik ten Hag gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Manchester United at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /

The top betting apps in Ireland would be forced to cut United’s odds to win the Premier League, with Irish punters likely to be eager to back Ferguson to fire them into title contention.

Ferguson was on United’s shortlist last summer, but they baulked at Brighton’s hefty asking price. They would be well advised to return to the negotiating table this summer.

United also need defensive reinforcements, with Raphael Varane and Jonny Evans potentially leaving this summer. Jean-Clair Todibo and Gleison Bremer are targets for the club.

Cover at full-back is also needed, while the addition of a top-class midfielder is also required. If United acquire the players they need, their odds to win silverware would tumble.

A club of United’s stature should head into each season as one of the title favourites with the bookmakers. That is no longer the case, which highlights their demise in recent years.

In the short term, finishing in the top four and winning one of the domestic cups would represent progress. Success in the Europa League would be a bonus.

United must prioritise rebuilding a competitive squad and establishing a clear vision for the future before dreaming about reclaiming their place at the pinnacle of English football.

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