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Erik ten Hag has shown he has two tactical solutions to fix Manchester United attack



Manchester United’s immediate focus is on reinforcing their midfield options this summer, but it is not the only area of the pitch which needs urgent attention.

Erik ten Hag is also in the market for at least one new forward heading into the new campaign as he looks to ease the pressure on veteran forward Cristiano Ronaldo and also offset the departures of Edinson Cavani, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard.

Erik ten Hag can copy Frenkie de Jong transfer plan to solve another United problem

The simple solution is to suggest a new signing is needed, something the fans would certainly agree with. However, the best way to improve potency in front of goal is not always by adding another star central striker to the squad.

Just as important for United next season will be bringing balance to their forward line with the addition of a right-sided attacker, an addition which could be essential if Ten Hag is to address their overreliance on Ronaldo.

Another crucial factor will be how the new manager actually plans to use his attacking options. Talented players will, by the very nature of their ability, often produce moments of magic capable of winning matches, but in order to become genuine Premier League title challengers, they also need to be placed in a functional system.

Ten Hag’s time at Ajax indicates he is well equipped to do just that, and he has already showcased two ways in which he might be able to improve United’s attacking output.

The Dutchman first made a name for himself with Ajax’s surge to the semi-finals of the Champions League three years ago, with a run which saw the Amsterdam side hold their own against Bayern Munich in the group stage before beating Real Madrid and Juventus on their run to the last four.

What was so interesting about that side was the use of Dusan Tadic as a false nine as Ajax tore apart opposition defences with clever movement and flexibility in the forward line.

Although the Serbian playmaker often dropped back to allow Donny van de Beek space to move further up the pitch, he still finished the season as the club’s top scorer with a staggering 38 goals in 56 appearances. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, the most recognisable centre-forward, was second with 23, while Hakim Ziyech got 21 and Van de Beek netted 17.

It is particularly poignant ahead of next season given that United might only have Ronaldo as a senior central striking option at the club and will need to rely on the likes of Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho and any new right wing recruit to supplement their forward line.

But one of the most exciting traits Ten Hag possesses is his ability to rebuild a side and adapt their formation. This season, Ajax were a lot more direct, with Sebastien Haller utilised as a central striking option, with support out wide provided by both Tadic and Antony.

Haller finished as the top scorer with 34 goals in 43 appearances, while Steven Berghuis was utilised as an attacking midfielder in a similar mould to that of Fernandes for United.

In essence, it seems like Ten Hag already has the ideal tactical set-up in mind to get the best from both Ronaldo and Fernandes next season, while the first Ajax side he built hints that he could also achieve success in the absence of either of them too.

There has been plenty of speculation about how Ten Hag could look to sign a back-up for Ronaldo in the transfer market, but perhaps the solution is to just use the players already at his disposal in a different way.

United certainly need to strengthen their side where possible this summer, though the biggest change will likely come from how Ten Hag sets them up.



Rio Ferdinand issues major warning about Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag




Former centre-back Rio Ferdinand believes it is still too early to judge whether Erik ten Hag is the right man to lead Manchester United back to the top, despite their unquestionable improvement under him this season.

United head into tomorrow’s Manchester derby against City at Old Trafford with the knowledge that a win will lift them to within a point and place of their neighbours in the Premier League table.

The Reds have lost just one of their last 18 matches since being battered 6-3 by City back in October, featuring a current run of eight wins on the bounce.

The Reds, such is the level of progress they have made under Ten Hag this season, are now considered as one of the favourites to qualify for the Champions League for next season.

They have made significant strides in a relatively short space of time and victories over the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur already this season have proven that they are capable of competing in the upper echelons of the table again.

However, despite heading into the second half of the campaign with form in their sails, Ferdinand insists the jury is still out on Ten Hag, despite him reaching 20 wins as United manager quick than any of his predecessors.

“I think it’s too early to say,” said Ferdinand to the Mirror. “We’ve been here with previous managers when it looks like we are onto something.

“We’ve got to be patient and give the man time. I think all the signs are very positive at the moment. He’s come in and seen what is happening, assessed how things are, looked at individuals and looked at the shape of the team.

“These were a bunch of players that were quite low. They were shot to pieces and he’s had to build, not only footballers, but men back up again. He’s had to build a lot of human beings back up and that takes time.

“The fact he’s now talking about qualifying for the Champions League so positively, he can sense a confidence coming back into this team. There’s a consistency of performance from the team that wasn’t there before and the signals and signs are all very promising.

“But they’re still not where they want to be. City are way ahead of where United are. The distance is a bit closer, but it’s still not anywhere near where we want it to be. There’s still work to be done.”

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Manchester United takeover bids ‘expected imminently’ with serious interest in Club




Manchester United are expecting takeover offers from across the world as they are set to invite bids ahead of ‘mid-February deadline’.

The Telegraph have reported that the club have received ‘serious interest’ from consortiums based in the Middle East, Asia and the United States.

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also weighing up an offer, as the Glazers hope to the sell one of the biggest clubs in the world for over £5billion.

The report also adds that parties who had been interested in taking over Chelsea, before Todd Boehly’s £4.25bn takeover, are set to return with approaches for the Red Devils.

It’s expected that potential investors will go public with their attempts to buy United in the coming weeks with the clock ‘now ticking on a deal’.

Senior United figures will issue a mid February deadline for formal offers in order to help get get the takeover completed before the end of the season.

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Confirmed: Chelsea ready to make late bid to hijack another Arsenal transfer




Chelsea will make a late attempt to scupper Arsenal’s hopes of finally signing Mikhailo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Gunners have submitted their third bid for the Ukraine international winger and hope an offer of £62m before add-ons, which take the deal closer to £70m, will be enough to break the deadlock between the two clubs.

Chelsea’s interest in the 21-year-old winger was earlier this week described only as ‘exploratory’ but ESPN now claim that Todd Boehly will test the waters and attempt to throw a spanner in the works for the Premier League leaders.

Shakhtar’s technical director Darijo Srna was pictured at Stamford Bridge last week as he watched Chelsea’s defeat against Manchester City and Boehly would have little issue with meeting an asking price which is closer to £88million.

Arsenal are said to be confident that their latest bid for Mudryk will be enough to finally secure the services of their No.1 January target, but have already been beaten to the punch once this month by their west London rivals.

Chelsea won the race to sign Joao Felix on loan from Atletico Madrid amid competition from Arsenal and Manchester United, but the Portugal international’s promising debut ended in devastating fashion when he was sent off just shy of the hour mark for a dangerous challenge on Fulham’s Kenny Tete.

Felix will now miss the next three games through suspension as the problems mount for Chelsea’s under-fire manager Graham Potter.

‘It sums up where we are at the moment – everything that can go wrong, is going wrong,’ Potter said after Chelsea’s 2-1 west London derby defeat.

‘It was a forward’s tackle from Joao, there was no malice in it but I understand why it was a red. It is another blow the hits keep coming at the moment.

‘He was really good you could see his quality in the game so it is doubly disappointing for us because he was looking dangerous throughout.

‘I don’t think there was too much malice in it and it is an unfortunate action and we are going to lose him now for three games.’

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