Erik ten Hag’s first season in charge at Old Trafford was described by many as revolutionary, with the former Ajax boss guiding Manchester United to a third-place finish in the Premier League and winning their first piece of silverware in six years in the form of the English League Cup.
The Red Devils haven’t been as proficient in their start to this season though, and Ten Hag is already feeling the wrath from the media and Manchester United fans alike — with the bookmakers now pricing him as one of the favourites to be the next Premier League managers sacked.
Indeed, his side have been downright diabolic at times this campaign. But that isn’t always his fault, and there is an argument to be had as to whether Man United’s start to the 2023-24 season has actually been as bad as some are making it seem.
Yes, the Red Devils have lost five of their first 12 games — which is just four losses short of the nine defeats they suffered across the entirety of last campaign.
On the flip side though, they have seven wins and are just five points behind Tottenham Hotspur — who have been heaped with endless praise so far this season — in fourth, and six points behind Arsenal and Liverpool in third and second, respectively.
, by no means are they out of the race for top four — and if they come back from the international break by building on their recent wins over Fulham and Luton Town, then they will be right back in the mix of things.
There’s no doubt that their Champions League form could be better, however. Man United have won just one of their first three games, leaving them bottom of Group A as Bayern Munich have already nabbed the top spot.
But they still have a good chance of finishing second as Copenhagen and Galatasaray are only one point above them.
The Red Devils face the Turkish outfit in Istanbul on November 29 and are the favourites in the Galatasaray v Man Utd odds.
A win would surely propel Ten Hag’s side into second as Copenhagen have to take on Bayern at the Allianz Arena.
But it wouldn’t guarantee the Red Devils a place in the knockouts as they then have to host the German giants at Old Trafford, while Galatasaray and the Danish side clash in a bid to progress to the round of 16.
It’s also hard to blame Ten Hag entirely for Man United finding themselves in this situation in the Champions League.
The Red Devils really should have beaten Copenhagen last time out, as they were the favourites in the football betting odds and well on course for a win when going 2-0 up.
But Marcus Rashford’s red card changed the complexity of the match, and the Man United players failed to manage the game effectively — blowing a lead not once, but twice.
Then there is, of course, the fact their defence of the League Cup was ended by Newcastle United — as Eddie Howe’s side avenged defeat in the final at Wembley back in February with a 3-0 thrashing at Old Trafford.
While a club like Manchester United wants to be competing on all fronts every season, the EFL Cup wouldn’t have been top of their priority list for this campaign. So, it’s not the be-all and end-all that they were knocked out earlier than expected.
It has not been an ideal start to the season by any means, but it hasn’t been a complete trainwreck either.
If Man United can put together a few more wins in the Premier League to close the gap on the top four, and progress from their Champions League group, then they are well back on track to match their seasonal goals.