Premier League team guide: Manchester United in the spotlight

Leo Munro
LiveScore
Erik ten Hag has been tasked with restoring Manchester United to their former glory
Erik ten Hag has been tasked with restoring Manchester United to their former glory

After recording their lowest points tally in the Premier League era last term, Manchester United have turned to former Ajax boss Erik ten Hag. 

It has been five years since the Red Devils last claimed silverware — a trio of trophies under Jose Mourinho in 2016-17 — and longer still since landing the title. 

There is still much work to be done at Old Trafford but after a lengthy pursuit, United have to put their faith in Ten Hag.

Last season: Sixth

Hopes were high at the Theatre of Dreams after a 5-1 win over rivals Leeds last August.

Cristiano Ronaldo's romantic return only served to enhance expectations. 

But a run of one win in seven league games culminated with club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer being sacked following a 4-1 defeat at Watford. 

Ralf Rangnick came in as interim boss but his high-pressing style struggled to translate and, after briefly flirting with the Champions League spots, United fell away. 

Elsewhere, defeats to West Ham in the Carabao Cup third round, Middlesbrough in the FA Cup fourth round and Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last 16 completed a wretched campaign. 

By the end, it was a bitter divorce with Rangnick leaving for the Austria job, shunning a two-year consultancy role in doing so.

New faces

Christian Eriksen should add incision and creativity to Manchester United in 2022-23
Christian Eriksen should add incision and creativity to Manchester United in 2022-23

Despite making three high-profile additions this summer, United's off-season has been dominated by the players they have yet to sign. Chiefly, Frenkie de Jong.

Fellow Dutchman Tyrell Malacia was Ten Hag's first addition, arriving from Feyenoord to fight it out with Luke Shaw and Alex Telles at left-back. 

Christian Eriksen — who trained with Ajax's youth team while Ten Hag was in charge last term — arrived on a free transfer after a successful six-month stay with Brentford. 

Completing a trio of new arrivals with Dutch connections is Lisandro Martinez. 

Poached from underneath Arsenal's noses, the former Ajax defender can play at left-back or holding midfield. Ten Hag sees him starting in central defence though.

Potential line-up

Bruno Fernandes scored 10 Premier League goals from midfield last season
Bruno Fernandes scored 10 Premier League goals from midfield last season

4-2-3-1: De Gea; Dalot, Maguire, Martinez, Malacia; McTominay, Fred; Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford; Ronaldo. 

Although Ten Hag has been schooled in Ajax's iconic 4-3-3 shape, United have stuck with 4-2-3-1 in pre-season. 

David de Gea remains unchallenged in goal while Diego Dalot looks to have leapfrogged Aaron Wan-Bissaka at right-back. 

Harry Maguire will fight it out with Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof for the right to partner Martinez at centre-back — though Ten Hag says the England defender will be captain. Malacia completes the defence.

In midfield, Scott McTominay and Fred remain steadfast, while Jadon Sancho will finally get to play on his favoured right-hand side this year. 

Bruno Fernandes should play in support of countryman Ronaldo up front with Marcus Rashford, looking to remain fit and rediscover his best form on the left.

Star man: David De Gea

David De Gea has been busy between the sticks for Manchester United
David De Gea has been busy between the sticks for Manchester United

In a period of alarming mediocrity, one player who has always been reliable for United is goalkeeper De Gea. 

Defensive issues plagued the Red Devils last season as they conceded more goals (57) than relegated Burnley (53). 

However, it would have been many more had it not been for De Gea's 128 saves, the third-most in the division. 

Now entering his 12th season at Old Trafford, De Gea was voted Players' Player of the Year for the fourth time last term — recognition of his importance.

Up-and-comer: Hannibal Mejbri

All-action Tunisian international midfielder Hannibal Mejbri burst on to the scene in 2021-22 with Gary Neville lauding his passion and commitment. 

The 19-year-old was a late substitute in the 4-0 thrashing by Liverpool in April. 

Neville, on commentary duties that night, said: "Honestly, it takes a young kid to come on and show the rest of them how to sprint to the ball and put a challenge in. I'm actually proud of him."

Mejbri also played 10 Premier League 2 games last season, scoring once and providing two assists. 

With midfielders Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic all leaving in the off-season, the Parisian will hope for further opportunities this term.

The boss: Erik ten Hag

After a lengthy search, former Ajax coach Ten Hag was confirmed as the fifth permanent boss to lead United since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. 

A former centre-back who had three spells with Twente in the Netherlands, Ten Hag began his coaching career with Go Ahead Eagles, leading them to a first promotion in 17 years. 

His next stop was Bayern Munich's second team before landing the head coach role at Utrecht, finishing fifth and fourth to earn European football. 

Ten Hag then won three Eredivisie titles and two KNVB Cups at Ajax, famously reaching the 2018-19 Champions League semi-finals after knocking out Real Madrid and Juventus. 

Now the no-nonsense Dutchman is charged with restoring United to their former glory.

All information correct as of 11am, July 29, 2022

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Manchester UnitedPremier League
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