Gary Neville says Erik ten Hag won’t be under pressure to win trophies for at least three years, such is the scale of the work he needs to do to rebuild Manchester United.
The Ajax boss was named United’s new manager on Thursday and will take on the role of caretaker head coach Ralf Rangnick this summer.
Sixth-placed United are currently reeling from a 4-0 defeat at Liverpool, and Neville says Ten Hag has a lot of groundwork to do before he and his team can compete with Jurgen Klopp’s side for the big ones honors.
“What we’re seeing right now is unacceptable,” Neville said. “It needs to be sorted out initially and Ten Hag has a big job to get the club back to the minimum standards they need to achieve which is attitude, work ethic, belief, trust and then hopefully , you’ll start thinking about earning trophies.
“But honestly, I wouldn’t put too much pressure on Ten Hag in the first one or two years to win a trophy at the club. It would be great if he did and he would perform too well, in my opinion.
“It will be: getting into the top four, restoring Man Utd to the Champions League, getting players into the club who can play the way they want to play, and then getting a belief system.
“It took Jurgen Klopp four or five years to win a Premier League title, as great a job as he did. I wouldn’t put pressure on Ten Hag in the first two or three years to win. a Premier League title.They’re a million miles away from that currently.
“At the end of last season, I thought they were getting closer. But everything fell apart and fell apart. I don’t know why it happened. Ten Hag has to pick up the pieces.
“So the initial phase: building the foundation of what he wants to accomplish, and then the third, fourth, fifth year is when you start looking at him to win trophies.”
Neville warns of long-term impact on players of heavy Man Utd defeats
Liverpool’s big win on Tuesday followed the 5-0 thrashing they inflicted on Old Trafford in October, and United have also suffered comprehensive defeats to Premier League leaders Manchester City this season.
Neville thinks the impact of those results and United’s miserable form which has seen them win just four of their last 14 games could affect the trajectory of the players’ careers – and Ten Hag may have to take that into account when he will assess which of the current team he wishes to take with him on his trip.
“The players have completely lost confidence and conviction,” Neville said. “They don’t want to play football for Manchester United at the moment. It’s not that they don’t want to play football for the club – they don’t want to play football. They want the season to end.
“You can see it in their eyes when they warm up, when they go out, when they play. They just want these games to end. But the problem is there is no hiding place at this club. They have Arsenal on Saturday, Chelsea next Thursday where all eyes will still be on them and they’re going to have to try to show up, they’ve got to find something somewhere.
“I want to be careful saying there is lasting damage, but the mental impact of what’s going on at the club right now, with the kinds of defeats they’re having, the kind of criticism they’re getting , fans boo them, this is going to have a lasting impact on some of these guys to the point where Ten Hag will have to decide if he can get it back – and with some of them he may not be able to.
“There’s a big job to do in a lot of different aspects. The first job is to decide who he wants to keep who is currently there, and then he has to decide who he wants to make sure that that trust, that belief, that l spirit in the locker room can start to rise.”
“Rangnick will tell Ten Hag who has to go”
Recruitment is going to be a key focus, with Rangnick saying that after the Anfield defeat United may need 10 new players. But deciding who leaves the club to make way for these new signings will also be important, with Sky Sports News understanding that Ten Hag will tell United players he does not want passengers at the club.
Neville expects interim boss Rangnick, who has seen the current squad up close and personal, to have a strong opinion on who should stay and who should leave.
“Recruitment is the most important job in a football club,” he said. “If you get the players wrong, you have a hard time.
“Man Utd have flip-flopped many times over a 10-year period to different philosophies. There were times when I thought they were on the right track, but how did that play out over of the last 8-10 months, to be in the Europa League final to where he is now is alarming.
“I can’t explain it. I don’t think any Man Utd fan can explain it, or probably anyone inside the club can explain why he’s gone from a level that doesn’t wasn’t at the top but definitely going in the right direction, to a point where this locker room seems broken in spirit, in energy, in belief in each other, in sympathy for each other as a group .
“Rangnick has had four or five months to assess this locker room. I’m pretty sure they’ll have some pretty direct conversations about who he needs to get rid of.
“It’s on the tip of Rangnick’s tongue in every interview he does and you get the feeling he’s going to go rogue at some point and start calling players. He does it in a group, he doesn’t aren’t doing it individually yet, but there’s no doubt that Rangnick will pass on this very specific information about who Ten Hag needs to get rid of – and I’m sure Ten Hag will listen and accept that.”
Will Ten Hag enter Champions League football?
Man Utd are currently sixth in the Premier League, three points behind the top four, but having played one game more than Tottenham (fourth) and Arsenal (fifth). Will they sneak into the Champions League? Here are their remaining matches…
- April 23 – Arsenal (a) Premier League
- April 28 – chelsea (h) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
- May 2nd – Brentford (h) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
- May 7 – Brighton (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
- May 22 – crystal palace (a) Premier League