Erik ten Hag will start his job at Manchester United this summer without Champions League on the agenda for the season ahead.
The club’s chance of a top four Premier League finish is all but over thanks to Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Arsenal. The gap up to the Gunners, who have a game in hand, is too big to close in the few remaining weeks of the seasons, especially for a United playing as woefully as they are.
- Arsenal 3-1 Man Utd: Player ratings – Premier League
- Twitter reacts to criminal Man Utd defending & awful refereeing
United trail fourth place Arsenal by six points and have played a game more. That could extend to nine if Mikel Arteta’s team keep up the kind of form they have recaptured in the last week with consecutive wins over both United and Chelsea.
Tottenham are also part of the top four equation, but United would have to rely on both they and Arsenal suffering a late season collapse – as well as somehow lifting their abject selves off the floor they currently occupy. It is absolutely too much to do.
Ralf Rangnick has been refreshingly honest and open about the scale of the problems in the squad he has inherited. United fans don’t blame the German coach for what they are seeing – if anything, his ability to say it as he sees will give the club’s top brass nowhere to hide from the ‘open heart operation’ that is critical come summer. They cannot not act.
- Ralf Rangnick: Man Utd require 'open heart operation'
- Man Utd's transfer plans following Erik ten Hag appointment
United’s more important fight in what is left of the 2021/22 season is ensuring they don’t record their worst ever Premier League finish. West Ham are only two points behind in seventh place and could jump ahead if they can capitalise on Chelsea’s poor form on Sunday.
Eighth place Wolves are only a further three points behind and could get to within two of United with a game in hand if they beat manager-less Burnley – also on Sunday.
United have never finished lower than seventh in the Premier League era, having done so in 2013/14 during David Moyes’ ill-fated season in charge. But maybe a repeat of that, or worse, is what it will take to prove to the powers that be they can’t sit back and hope for change on its own.
Listen now to 90min's Manchester United podcast, The Promised Land, with Scott Saunders & Rob Blanchette. On this week's show they discuss Erik ten Hag’s appointment as new permanent manager, as well as the reaction from Mauricio Pochettino & Donny van de Beek.