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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Predicting Manchester United’s finishing position in 2023 for Erik ten Hag’s first season in charge

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Manchester United headed into the World Cup break fifth in the Premier League table after 14 games played.

Erik ten Hag‘s Red Devils sit three points off the Champions League places with a game in hand.

The twenty-time league champions also remain in the Carabao Cup, and have a mouth-watering Europa League play-off against Barcelona, as well as an FA Cup third-round tie against Everton.

United in Focus has had an attempt at predicting Manchester United’s finishing position in 2023 in Ten Hag’s first season in charge.

Predicting Manchester United’s finishing position in 2023 for Erik ten Hag’s first season in charge

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

Manchester United are 11 points behind league leaders Arsenal with 24 league games remaining, but with Mikel Arteta’s Gunners facing a few months without star striker Gabriel Jesus, following the Brazilian’s knee injury in Qatar.

Reigning champions Manchester City will likely step on the accelerator once the season resumes, and if Pep Guardiola’s side hit the front, they’ll likely leave everyone trailing in their wake.

But Ten Hag’s men are only currently six points behind our fierce rivals.

If we remain within a similar distance come the end of the season there is every chance United could finish second in the top-flight in Ten Hag’s maiden campaign at the helm.

Success for Ten Hag this season would be top four, and a trophy to end United’s six-year drought would be a welcome bonus.

Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur look to be struggling for consistency, and while Newcastle United’s emergence under PIF continues, United could prove to be City’s closest challengers depending on how Arsenal react to their Jesus setback.

With the distraction of Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at Old Trafford finally resolved, Ten Hag will believe there is plenty of room for improvement in the second half of the campaign.

And if Ten Hag does manage to sign his compatriot Cody Gakpo next month to replace the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, United could have the firepower to challenge across all fronts if Gakpo hits the ground running and Anthony Martial can stay fit.

Keeping Raphael Varane fit alongside Lisandro Martinez will also be crucial to United’s chances of success this season.

But with Casemiro’s importance and influence growing, alongside Bruno Fernandes and Christian Eriksen’s understanding only growing – United’s midfield is the strongest it’s been for a decade.

With Marcus Rashford back loving his football and Alejandro Garnacho’s emergence showing no signs of slowing – Ten Hag will have even more options when Jadon Sancho and Antony return.

United have two in-form full-backs in Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw and if Ten Hag can have a clean bill of health – United can challenge anyone on their day, but there will continue to be bumps along the road, but it’s refreshing to see how quickly Ten Hag’s men are responding to setbacks.

A second-placed finish and a trophy over the next six months isn’t out of reach for this group.

Tom is a lifelong Manchester United supporter who was spoilt with success growing up thanks to Sir Alex Ferguson. An NCTJ-accredited sports journalist with over five years experience in the industry, and now a football writer for GRV Media who specialises in covering the Red Devils. He has no doubt Erik ten Hag is the man to bring the glory days back to Old Trafford!

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