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Manchester United beat Newcastle 2-0 to lift their first silverware in 6 years

By Real11 - Feb 27 2023 313 Views
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From Axing Ronaldo to signing Casemiro- Here are the changes Ten Hag made to fix the Theatre of Dreams

Manchester United have finally put an end to their six-year trophy drought as they beat Newcastle 2-0 in the Carabao Cup at Wembley on Sunday (February 26) The next challenge is to emulate the club’s greatest team by completing a quadruple in the season. 

That’s how things work at the biggest clubs: You win one championship and move onto the next. For Man Utd’s player, that implies going all the way in the FA Cup and Europa League between now and the end of May. 

This trophy means something," Ten Hag said Sunday. "That is the feeling I get. We have won something, we have to celebrate that. But after that, you have to keep going. This cup can be the inspiration to give even more. Don't be satisfied."

Winning all three cups in 22-23 season wouldn’t be on par with the ultimate achievement of clinching the Champion League, Premier League and FA Cup titles under Sir Alex Ferguson in 1999, but after enduring the club’s longest barren run for 40 years, United can now make up for the lost time in the days ahead. Toppling Arsenal and overhauling their 8 point lead at the top of the Premier League is perhaps an arduous task, but the cups are certainly to be won.  

Casemiro opened the scoring for the Reds in the 33rd minute. The Brazilian leaped and placed Luke Shaw’s curling ball into the net to break the deadlock. Six minutes later Wout Werghost deft pass found Marcus Rashford whose deflected attempt eluded the hands of Karius. The goal was eventually recorded as an own goal by Steve Botman, who slid at the last instance for a block but instead conceded a second. The two goal lead proved enough as the Red Devils secured a comfortable win against Magpies and got back on the trophy trail. But United can’t linger on this success for too long. There are short and long term objectives for Ten Hag to tick off as a manager, and the Dutchman, appointed as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s permanent successor last summer, has already ticked plenty of boxes. 

Ten Hag has transformed the club culture by instilling a winning mentality within the squad and its players, something spurred by his decisive handling of Cristiano Ronaldo, who went to Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr after having his United contract terminated last November. With that, Ten Hag  has taken a side that had United’s worst-ever Premier League campaign last season to comfortably sitting in third position now, on track for Champions League qualification, and with a trophy added to the honours’ list. 

Moving on without Ronaldo, benching skipper Harry Maguire following too many lacklustre performances, dropping star player Rashford concerning disciplinary breaches and making vital signings namely Casemiro, Lisandro Martinex and Christian Eriksen- Ten Hag’s fingerprints are over this success. 

"The turnaround is transformational -- the turnaround under Erik ten Hag is unbelievable," former United skipper Gary Neville told Sky Sports. "At the end of last season some of those players were part of a team labelled a disgrace by me and other Manchester United fans.

Roy Keane, United’s most formidable captain, echoed Neville’s comments: "This is the catalyst for putting some belief into the squad. This squad will be dangerous with a medal around their neck because you'd like to think Erik ten Hag will improve them again."

"What the manager has done in a short space of time is fantastic," Keane added. "The players now have to use this as a springboard to get more trophies over the next few years, that's what it is about playing for Manchester United."

Ten Hag’s biggest requirement of all was perhaps winning that trophy. United under Ferguson were so accustomed to winning that their downfall since his retirement in 2013 proved so much harder to digest. They managed to win only three trophies- the 2016 FA Cup under Louis Van Gaal and the Carabao Cup/Europa League double in 2017 under Jose Mourinho post Fergi’s retirement. The past six years in particular have been a sombre wilderness of failure, aggravated by the successes of Manchester City and Liverpool. 

So Ten Hag simply had to make United return back to winning ways, and he has done exactly that by winning the first trophy. The standards are high and this United side will look to continue onto their merry ways. It is now time for the European giants to start winning the big trophies again. And by big trophies we mean the Premier League and Champions League. 

But before shifting his focus towards next year’s objective, Ten hag will be keen to turn United into serial winners in the other two competitions in which they are still competing. 

The win against mighty Barcelona on Thursday in the Europa League playoff marked United out favourites to win that tournament, despite a difficult round of 16 tie against Real Betis, while they will go through the FA Cup Quarter Finals if they beat West Ham at Old Trafford on Wednesday. 

Such bullish talk, a year ago would have been unimaginable as United staggered from one humiliation under Solskjaer and then Ralf Rangnick, his disappointing replacement as interim manager. But Ten Hag is a coach who has the aura of someone who is in absolute control of what is presented to him and who knows how to achieve success. As such, he will now be raring for further glory in the cups this season, using the Carabao Cup win as a platform to build a legacy.

United’s FA Cup in 1990, which concluded a five year trophy drought for the Red Devils was Ferguson’s first success, and what followed was an incredible run of glory. Fans will be hoping Ten could replicate the same for their club, which a year back was down in doldrums. 

Although Ten Hag's team is not quite ready to make Manchester United great again, there is now a clear path towards achieving this goal. One of the team's main areas for improvement is securing a reliable centre-forward who can score 20 or more goals a season, reducing their dependence on Rashford. Additionally, greater depth in the squad would make them less vulnerable when key players such as Casemiro or Raphael Varane are unavailable.

Thanks to Ten Hag's leadership and the clear structure he has implemented, the team has improved significantly. They now require only strategic additions of the best players to become challengers on all fronts. While greater consistency is needed from players such as Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho, and Antony, as well as an improvement in goalkeeper David de Gea's performance, Ten Hag has set high standards and will expect his players to meet them.

The team's next objective is to win two more trophies in addition to the Carabao Cup they are currently competing for. This is no longer a distant dream but a realistic ambition that this United team can achieve.  

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