Five Reds preview United's first season under Ten Hag

Wednesday 03 August 2022 11:57

Manchester United have been filling column inches and television screens just as much as ever this summer, as Erik ten Hag starts his tenure as manager.

We know all about what the pundits think, whether that's former players or journalists. But how are fans feeling, just a few days out from our Premier League opener with Brighton & Hove Albion?

Ahead of the Reds' pre-season game against Atletico Madrid in Oslo last week, we caught up with several Reds in a bar in the Norwegian capital, and asked them for their thoughts on pre-season, our new manager and what they expect from the next nine months or so.

What came back was some cautious optimism, excitement about Ten Hag, and plenty more. Read the chat in full below...

Red Army rocks Oslo


The Norwegian capital was buzzing last night, as the Scandinavian supporters' club celebrated its 40th anniversary.

What do you make of Ten Hag so far?
Thomas, Fosnavag: Brilliant. He's instrumental, in terms of getting his authority into the players. We've had many managers in the last few years, but not coaches that go onto the training pitch [to explain]. That's good, because the small details of football cannot be underestimated. That could make a difference in a game. We have a manager that's really hands-on. The players want to win, the club wants to win, and we are starving for trophies. We have been thinking about our opponents for the last 10 years, now we are thinking with our brains [under Ten Hag]. He is quiet in public, but direct to the players.

Harry, Openshaw: It's promising. I'm confident. He's a disciplinarian. He's not the same birth-sign as Fergie (or me), Capricorn – his birthday is February – but he's a disciplinarian and he knows football inside out. He's got to, he's Dutch! Total football. I like the way he said in training matches: if you pass the ball backwards or sideways, I'll take you off for five minutes. That is superb. I've been saying it for years: why do we pass the ball back? We need to be more positive.

Rune, Kristiansand:So far, very good. He clearly has good skills, and Rashford and Sancho are smiling again. Maguire has played some very good matches too. He was the best player in some of the tour matches, with good passes, strong. I hope Donny van de Beek is going to have a good time [under Erik] too.

Jon, Trondheim: 
I think it's going to be beautiful. He's a good manager - he's shown that at Ajax. I think he's going to be a good one for United.

JC, Orsta: It looks exciting. He seems calculating. There's no coincidences, he's a professional. But I've been fooled before, because we've looked good under new managers before!
Which players impressed you most on the pre-season tour?

Rune: “I watched all the matches on the tour, and I'm going to Manchester to watch the first game against Brighton. I'm going with my son. Maguire was very good, and the midfield looked strong. Sancho and Rashford are looking strong on the left and right side, and Martial is smiling. He's very fast and scored three goals in three matches, so it was very good. I liked it.”

Jon: “I watched a few of them – Melbourne and Palace. Which players impressed? Martial did a very good job, Sancho is going to do well this season, I think. And De Gea, as always, is going to be a standout.  I think Sancho needed a season to get used to the play, and the Premier League is a different league than he's used to. So I think Sancho is going to stand out. Martial, in the pre-season, looks like a whole new player compared to last year.”

JC: “Sancho looks back, he's like a man on a mission. He's looks like he's got something to prove. He looks fitter, his pace is up. Rashford is my man, Marcus. He's going to have a new start now, after a good pre-season. We're going to see the real Marcus Rashford. He has the technique, he has the stamina, he has the heart.”
Thomas: “Jadon Sancho is going to have a great season. This is going to be the start of him, after a year of developing into the team. I was going to say Fred as well. Marcus Rashford looks hungry, determined - he looks like he's going to be the Marcus Rashford of 2016.”
Harry: “I've seen all the matches – Sancho. He's being allowed the freedom on the pitch, because I don't think he's just a winger. In the old-fashioned way, he's an inside-forward – not quite a centre-forward – and he can play with both feet.”
We spoke to fans at a party for the Scandinavian branch's 40th anniversary.
What do you think of our new signings?
JC: “Martinez is going to be an awesome player. United have signed 'the Butcher!' That's something I've missed. We've been bullied too easily in recent times. We need to stand up for ourselves more. We miss [players like] Vidic, Nobby Stiles, Bryan Robson, Roy Keane. But we need more new signings. Eriksen? I'm interested to see how we use him, because he's too good to be back-up to Bruno. We need to get them both in the team. He's a class act.”

Harry: “I like the Argentinian. He's like Heinze or Evra. You need someone who plays with his life on the line, so to speak. I don't think we have that at the moment. Vidic did it, Nobby Stiles did it, God bless his soul. I think Martinez could be in that style.”

Jon: “I'm excited by Lisandro Martinez. I've seen him play a little bit, and he's a beautiful player. He's taken out [stopped] many other strikers in the Champions League last year. And Malacia, I think can do the same. Eriksen? I fancy him to do well. We're not always fans of the Danish people [laughs]! But he's a good player, a very good player. He's the one who can open up spaces when we are playing against teams that are laying low. He is the box-opener.”
Thomas: “Of the players we've bought, Christian Eriksen [excites me most]. We love the Danish! It's the Scandinavian connection! I was at the Brentford game in May, and the passes he created... he always creates stuff and we need players like that. I'm just curious if he's going to play as one of the two midfielders [behind Fernandes].”

Rune: “The new signings are good. Martinez, especially. Eriksen will be a good competition for Fernandes. Eriksen was down two years ago [after his health issue], and was the best player in every match he played at Brentford. That's amazing.”

Which Red played every pre-season game?


That stat, and more, is revealed in our comprehensive look at the numbers from summer 2022.

Are you happy with the new home and away kits?

Thomas: “They're great. The only thing I don't like is the socks, because I don't like the big thing on the middle of the socks. The collar is great, the kit is amazing. But I think the Team Viewer logo should be above the name, so it's more like the Vodafone days!”

Harry: “I like the home kit. I only ever buy a red shirt. Tomorrow [on match day] I'll be wearing my 1958 'Flowers of Manchester' shirt. I'm not so keen on the blue and the white. I like the black ones. I like the collar on the new one. At home, I walk around like Cantona [with my collar up] because I'm a bit arrogant. I'm sure of myself.”

Jon: “Beautiful. It's just like the old days, with the buttons. It looks like Cantona, who was so cool.”

Rune: “They're very good. The black-and-white one I like very much. My son has that one.”
Thomas Teige Sporsheim has been a member of the Scandinavian branch for decades.
What do you want to see from United this season? What would represent a positive campaign?

JC: “Easy – it's about style. I want to see United play entertaining football; I want to be on the edge of my seat. It's about speed, it's about attacking, it's about pressure, wing play, about fighting for the match, about giving everything.”

Rune: “Good attacking football. What does that mean? Pace, take up good positions, putting pressure on opponents, playing fast and forward quickly. Ten Hag is very good, so I hope we will see that. Now we have a plan to get the ball forward quickly, with plenty of overlaps from Rashford and Martial. Top four maybe? I don't know, because all the big teams in England have bought players.”

Thomas: “There's been surprises before. You can't say that we won't win the league, but obviously it's really difficult. What would make me happy? Just to see United play offensive football and try to win games, and maybe win a trophy. To dominate games, and not always be reacting to the other team. I want to see us have the ball and create things.” 

Jon: “Just that Erik ten Hag makes something out of the team. That he shows us that the team can progress. Just to show that we are among the contenders that can do something against the other big teams.”
Harry: “I just want to see us play good football. To not concede as many goals. I'm confident we'll score plenty, and I hope we can finish in the top four and stay there the whole season. Ten Hag will do it, I know he will.”