Does nobody think Erik Ten Hag’s new Manchester United will finish in the top four?

Date published: Wednesday 3rd August 2022 7:15 - Editor F365

Manchester United midfielder Christian Eriksen

Premier League predictions are rolling in and nobody is convinced that Manchester United can be saved in one summer by Erik Ten Hag.

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Premier League predictions see Manchester United in sixth
The Premier League is upon us so for what it’s worth, these are my predictions.

I don’t think a reasonable argument can be made to separate City and Liverpool as both are far superior to all other teams and will surely end up 1st and 2nd. I don’t buy the notion that the scousers are weaker without Mane or that Nunez is some sort of Carroll-esque donkey, or similarly that City will take time to adjust to a new formation. Both will be dominant in nearly every match they play. The only kicker this year is the World Cup, I suspect whichever squad makes it back with the fewest injuries will prevail in the end.

Spurs and Arsenal to claim 3rd and 4th respectively. Conte has now got his precious wingbacks and a little more depth to add to the ever brilliant Kane and Son so they will be better this year, however with a punishing European schedule I can’t quite see a title challenge on the cards. Arsenal are more settled and further down the ‘City Lite’ road than last year so I expect improvement in points total though it does still seem they’re a few injuries away from collapse, anything happens to Partey and Jesus and they look much weaker.

Chelsea are a bit of a quandary, they didn’t end last season well, have new owners, a lot of defensive player turnover, and a few worrying comments from Tuchel to boot. Things don’t seem rosy at all so I’m pegging them as this years crisis / disaster club, mainly because I’m sick of it being United but they probably still end up at least 5th. Which brings us to Ten Hag’s new-look reds. Had Ronaldo left and De Jong arrived then my prediction would probably still be outside the top 4 but as it is I think 6th again is most likely. There is just too much to do and too little time. I expect a vast improvement on the last few seasons in terms of style and direction but ultimately I think consistency of results will take time, though I truly hope I’m wrong.

Newcastle, West Ham, Palace, and Leeds to make up the remaining top-half places. The Hammers will do okay as they have done consistently under Moyes. Newcastle have a much improved defence but will likely still find goals a little difficult to come by. Palace have been good under Viera and with a little more consistency could make a go at the European places. Leeds have signed very well this summer and with Bamford back in play could do much better than expected, I think many underestimate Marsch because he’s American but he’s a talented and experienced coach.

Relegation wise Bournemouth and Fulham looked doomed to me, the former won’t score enough and the latter will concede too many. Also tipping Brentford for the drop, they were rescued somewhat by Eriksen last year and without him I don’t see enough creativity in midfield to supply Toney, though I think Everton will run them close due mainly to Lampard who is yet to look anything like a capable manager.

As the other bits go I can see Haaland, Nunez, Salah, Kane, and Son all above 20 league goals for the season. Ederson or Alisson for the golden glove, and Trent with the most assists again. Other than that I expect Perisic to get probably 5 or 6 goals whilst averaging only 60 minutes a game.

Still the only thing I’d put money on is Brenda blaming every man and his dog for Leicester’s patchy season before even considering his own short comings.
Dave, Manchester

 

More predictions
Only a matter of days to go and it’s time for predictions. Please note my predictions are almost always wrong and are hugely influenced by my biases. Still fun though. I’ve used the f365 format from last year. Here we go:

As is traditional, tell me who will win the league.
Liverpool. Had to say that didn’t I? I mean logically, it’s Man City. They were already brilliant and they’ve bought one of the best strikers in the world. But that’s no fun so I’ll say Liverpool. Haaland is clearly an outstanding player. So if anyone else is to win the league it will be because he takes time to settle in or City take time to adapt to a new style. I’m not saying that will happen, but we can hope. Anyway, Liverpool have been too close too many times not to win again under Klopp so this year is our year!

And the rest of the top four, in order. Which nobody ever gets right.
Man City, Tottenham, Arsenal. Am I influenced here by the fact I don’t really like United or Chelsea? Yes. Is there any logic in my picks? Maybe. Ten Hag will do a good job, but rebuilds take time. Klopp finished 8th in his first year at Liverpool. They haven’t really strengthened the midfield yet and an aging, unhappy Ronaldo could stink the place up. As for Chelsea, they haven’t signed a striker, still need a defender and I’m not convinced Sterling will be the answer to their problems. This one is genuinely tough though. I wouldn’t be surprised if United or Chelsea finished 3rd. Nor would it shock me if they finished 6th or 7th. Same for Arsenal and Spurs. It should be very open.

Three picks for relegation please.
Bournemouth, Southampton, Leeds. One promoted team I don’t think is good enough and two teams who struggled at the end of last year. Southampton were bottom of the form table for the last 10 games and its hard to see where the improvement comes from.

Which club will be a pleasant surprise?
Nottingham Forest will stay up comfortably.

Who will win the Golden Boot?
Harry Kane in a Conte inspired team will be up for it. And he’ll be well rested after England get knocked out in the World Cup last 16.

Which new signing will have the greatest positive impact?
I think Jesus will be good for Arsenal. He’s a very good player and could give them the goals they need. I know half the world thinks that so it’s not hugely original. Let’s got for Nunez as well since I’m very biased.

And which one will turn out to be a massive flop?
I don’t see Chelsea getting £50m worth out of Raheem Sterling. But for the sake of the league, let’s hope it’s Haaland.

Who will be the biggest bloody bargain?
To be honest my football knowledge isn’t good enough to say who the bargain buys will be. Fabio Carvalho looks a great prospect though, so I’ll go with another Liverpool biased answer. I’ll also give a shout out to Aaron Hickey who’s Scottish, so I have to back him (I also genuinely think he’ll do well).

Who will be named the PFA Player of the Year?
Darwin Nunez obviously, when he scores 40 goals in his first season. Hopefully. Serious answer, I’ll go Harry Kane here. If he’s top scorer, he’s a shoe in. Although it will probably be Salah or De Bruyne again.

First manager to leave their Premier League job?
Jessie Marsh. Panic will set in early and I don’t see Leeds being patient.

Pick the Champions League winner.
Smart money would say Man City, finally. But that’s boring, so I’ll go for a Mane inspired Bayern Munich.

In five words, tell us what you are most excited about this season.
The World Cup. Despite Qatar.
Mike, LFC, London

 

Manchester United would take fifth and a Europa League win
United’s pre-season had some positives and negatives. The Positives so far have been it does seem most of the team has bought into Ten Hag’s style, which has meant even when playing with pretty much the same players from last year, they don’t look as useless and played some not-so-bad football.

Players that have impressed me so far have been Malacia. In the short time, he’s been there, he’s been able to show an excellent defensive game and some solid crosses and balls up to the attack.

Sancho is starting to look more like the player we expected last season.  Martial has shown when given good chances, he can deliver but can’t do it all himself. Youngsters like Iqbal and Savage were really impressive. It looked like they’ve been playing professionally for a while. A solid loan to a good Championship squad or a newly promoted Premier League team would suit them to get consistent football or stay and play the cups and Europa League. Garnacho did not get many minutes through the whole pre-season against Rayo Vallecano. However, he looked better than most of our other wingers. He showed good pace and was not super greedy, which is a good attribute for a young player.

Now the players who haven’t impressed as much are the players like McTominay, who, if he was not 6’4″, would be a Championship player at best but has still shown his exceptional talent at hiding between two opposing players when his defenders have the ball. Rashford was one who early in pre-season looked promising like the rest of the team as he was going back to basics and giving crosses and was not just cutting in and shooting from 40 yards. Still, as pre-season went on, he’s shown that when he gets tired or finds a good pass, he goes back to his bad traits of trying to cut in from bad angles and shooting from silly distances. I hope that Ten Hag can relight the fire of Rashford, but I’m starting to worry that he may have peaked and does not have much else to offer.

Overall it was a good pre-season.

We got some solid results and some players back into some form. If Ten Hag can get some more signings in, like Frenkie De Jong, to freshen up the midfield and a left-footed winger to give us that different style as most of our first-choice wingers is right footed and a back up right back as it seems Wan-Bissaka might be on the way out.

Of course, it would be easy to go and set unrealistic expectations for Ten Hag and the squad. But if more signings are the ones that the manager wants, then a 4-5th place finish and a Europa League win would be an excellent first season of this rebuild that Ten Hag seems to be the catalyst of. All I can hope for as a United fan is the players don’t down tools, and the board backs the manager.
Max of Whitegate

 

On the arrogance of Man City
I am looking at Man City’s transfers out this summer, and I am trying to work out the last time a top-flight team was so happy to strengthen their competitors to such a degree. Is it because they don’t really see Chelsea and Arsenal as their competitors? There is a certain arrogance to this policy, and arrogance that only the very best teams can have. I don’t mean to slag them here, I just can’t think or another word that fits. It’s more than confidence – it sort of breaks an unwritten rule. Look, they’re free to break it, and they have made recouped a lot of money – about £130m reportedly – so it makes sense financially, but it’ll be lovely if Jesus and Sterling nick a few points off them.

As per usual, this is one of those hindsight things – if they carry on business as usual, then they will have made it more difficult for some of the chasing pack and it will look like a sound tactic. It may bite them squarely on the arse though…
Mat (Haaland will be a success for sure but it might take him half a season to acclimatise)

 

Sir Alex tactics would see him win nothing now
Nobody says Klopp is the second coming of Alex Ferguson. We say he’s Jurgen Klopp but since you bring it up – if Al had Pep and his infinite budget to battle with instead of the mighty Blackburn he wouldn’t have any titles either.

The vast majority of United’s titles were pretty much uncontended in the 90s and when he finally got consistent competition first with Arsene and then with Jose he was significantly less successful and I imagine it was the reason he retired, Easy Street was closed and he would just spoil his excellent looking record if he carried on.

If Alex was taking charge of United now he would win zero trophies, maybe a League Cup every couple of years. His tactics would be out of date and his man management of scream in their faces and lob things at his playing staff would see the modern player not want to play for him.

If you don’t think that’s true then find me an old fashioned style manager who survives in the modern game – Jose is the closest and we can see how that turned out.

Pep and Klopp are considered the best for a reason, they’re modern managers with modern approach to both playing and backroom staff who understand motivating players is a bit more than just threatening them.
Lee Baron

 

Oh and….
Just wanted to respond to the strawman argument sent in by Sage Humphrey (The Invincible). He is worried that people will call Klopp the next Ferguson after winning the Community Shield, and that Klopp is undeserving of the comparison because “he has only one EPL in his seven years in English football. They never learn.” Now, even as a Liverpool supporter and huge admirer of Klopp, I do not believe that he will be the next Ferguson. It will be many years (if ever) until another manager has the longevity and success that Ferguson had at United.

But… Sage Humphrey should have cited a different data point than “he has only one EPL in his seven years in English football.” In Ferguson’s first 7 years at United he won the league… one (1) time. And won less trophies overall.

Perhaps we “will never learn”, but hopefully Sage Humphrey (Actually Quite Vincible) will have learned something from this missive.
Dan, CNY
(LFC to win the league by 5+ points; finish 15+ points over United)

 

How to pick a women’s team
The rule for picking your women’s team to follow is simple; pick your local team. There are two main reasons; 1) For those of you that started supporting Liverpool, United or whoever because you thought success didn’t mean more if you had some underlying connection with the team you support, it’s a chance for you to right that hideous wrong. 2) By actually attending woman’s football matches, you’ll help it grow and petrol prices are crazy, so you don’t want to travel too far.
John, Shropshire

 

Enjoying the lack of tribalism in the women’s game
There has been a lot of talk over the past couple of weeks in relation to the difference between the woman’s game (pure) and the men’s game (toxic) and whilst there is a level of truth to a lot of it, one difference I wanted to pick up on is fan tribalism.

It has been nice not having the mailbox full of club fan X mouthing off that it is a disgrace that the manager hasn’t selected the player that plays for their club and that all players that who don’t play for their club is rubbish.

As someone who does not have a detailed knowledge of the woman’s game it was nice watching the matches without having a clue which club side Lucy Bronze or Mary Earps plays for.

The exceptions to this are Leah Williamson and Beth Mead as there is a contributor who can’t seem to talk about the woman’s game without bringing tribalism into it.

Enjoy it for what it is – it won’t be long until the traits that have unfiltered the men’s game come into play – it’s the world we currently live in – so come on, knock the tribalism on the head.
J Belfast

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