Graham Cummins: Erik ten Hag has improved Man United but they were coming from a low base

Red Devils boss has had a fine first season so far but we should reserve judgement until they're challenging for the league properly
Graham Cummins: Erik ten Hag has improved Man United but they were coming from a low base

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag. Picture: Isabel Infantes/PA Wire.

IS Manchester United manager Eric ten Hag receiving too much praise for the job he is doing at the club? 

The Dutchman has turned things around at Old Trafford since his arrival but it seems as if many people are getting carried away. 

I’m not saying he isn't doing well, because he clearly is, but some are classing him in the same category as Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp and he is a way to go before he can be considered their peer. 

We must remember that he has spent over €245m on new recruits, and had already one of the most expensive assembled squads in the Premier League at the club. 

In his defence those talented players were underperforming under previous managers Ralf Ragnick and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but is that saying much considering both those managers shouldn’t have been in the job in the first place. 

It wouldn’t have been too hard for any manager to have gotten those players to perform better than they did under the German or the Norwegian. He didn’t have hard acts to follow and the fact that United fans are ecstatic that the club are third in the league says a lot about how poor Solskjaer and Ragnick were as managers that the fans are happy about United being third in the league.


What he has done is give hope for the future of the club, and many glory-hunting United fans have re-emerged because of it. There seem to be a lot more United fans around than there were 12 months ago. He has brought back belief to the club that they can win trophies, perhaps not the major trophies yet, like the Premier League, but competitions like the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup. 

I’m not trying to devalue the English domestic cups but they are not recognised the way they used to. They are good to win but nothing to really brag about at the end of the season unless you are a mediocre club, like a Fulham or Crystal Palace.

United fans shouldn’t get carried away if they were to overcome Newcastle in the final. 

It’s great to win a trophy because it gives the players that feeling of winning but then they have to go and build on that. What good would it be if United were to win domestic cups without ever tasting triumph in the league again or winning the Champions League? 

Although the way some United fans are portraying the Carabo Cuo final against Newcastle, they might have you believe it is as big as the Champions League such is the way they have hyped up what some might view as a Premier League reserve cup.

Winning the Carabao Cup would be a start for Ten Hag. It was the first trophy that Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho won as managers of City and Chelsea respectively, and both went onto achieve so much with the clubs, and of course, Guardiola continues to do so with City, but then like the Spaniard and Mourinho, Ten Hag will only be considered a success if he relievers the Premier League trophy at United.

What Ten Hag does deserve credit for is the resurrection of Marcus Rashford. 

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford is in top form. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
Manchester United's Marcus Rashford is in top form. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

I was shocked when he was linked with a move to PSG last summer, such had been his poor form for a number of years at United. He wasn’t performing and I predicted that his career would be one of those ‘what if’ ones and it would replicate a career like Theo Walcott, one with so much promise but delivered so little. 

But Ten Hag has put his arm around Rashford and given the striker the confidence he had been lacking, and both United and Ten Hag are reaping the rewards because of it.

I do believe that the Dutchman is a good manager, but we shouldn’t be judging him in such high regard until he delivers a Premier or Champions League trophy at United. A Carabao Cup is a good start but it will be forgotten about whereas guiding a team to a Premier League title will always last in people's memory.

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