How can Erik ten Hag deal with the departures of Raphael Varane and Anthony Martial from Manchester United?

How can Erik ten Hag deal with the departures of Raphael Varane and Anthony Martial from Manchester United?

Erik ten Hag has a big task at hand as he prepares to clear Manchester United of fringe players and others who do not fit his plans. Two big names on this list are Raphael Varane and Anthony Martial, who have struggled with both game-time and injuries during the Dutchman’s tenure so far.

However, rather than reconciliation of their relationships under new ownership, ten Hag believes the time is right for both parties to move on. In the wake of this, Varane posted a message on his social media confirming he will leave the club in the upcoming summer transfer window. Martial is yet to give a similar indication but the writing is on the wall now.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at what ten Hag will have to do in order to cope with so many departures.

Pick a transfer strategy and follow through with it all summer

Sir Alex was a strong advocate of United’s youth academy. (Getty Images)

Manchester United as a club have maintained their ambition to be a winning club even after Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. However, one thing they have failed at doing is being consistent with their approach to achieving said success. They have switched managers, on and off-field tactics and even board members for fun over the last few years and it has all culminated in their current situation across the board.

From signing the likes of an ageing Cristiano Ronaldo two seasons ago, to breaking the bank for then youngsters Antony (22yo, £90m) and Rasmus Hojlund (20yo, £64m), the club has shown misdirected ambition rather than a concerted effort to build a competitive squad. This has led to the team having several holes in defence, in midfield and even a lack of a quality backup goalkeeper.

Now that it looks clear the hierarchy are planning to stick with Erik ten Hag, they should also give him the necessary tools to show he can succeed.

Play players based on merit and not past achievements or potential

There have been several instances during ten Hag’s tenure where he has come under tremendous fire for not playing certain players while treating others as irreplaceable. The chain started breaking after the Dutchman’s public feud with Cristiano Ronaldo, followed by stripping Harry Maguire off captaincy and dropping him from the XI. Now, the current team suffers as Amad Diallo, Willy Kambwala, and others watch from the sidelines as Jonny Evans and Antony start consistently.

Not only does this affect squad harmony negatively, it also sends a wrong message to players who are otherwise there to provide healthy competition for one other. If the XI is predetermined, some or most players may lose their motivation to perform as they will not be guaranteed consideration come matchday.

‘The Manchester United’ way must have a unique ten Hag twist

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag. (Getty Images)

Multiple managers have come and gone since Sir Alex left, but none have been able to replicate ‘The Manchester United’ way of playing, as set in stone by the Scotsman. This is mainly down to the fact that the entire club from top to bottom is looking to be run in ways that it was during Ferguson’s tenure, which is far from possible with so many changes to the modern-day sport.

Every manager from David Moyes, to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to Jose Mourinho has had a different set of players which they have had to adapt to. While the former two did not do much, Mourinho’s 2016-17 season with United showed he could succeed but the ownership had other plans.

Now, ten Hag is stuck trying to force his current players to play a style which they are unable to grasp in a way that will make them competitive. This is where the Dutchman must innovate and create a style better-suited for the crop of players he already has, and then sign players for depth accordingly.

Replace based on needs, not the name

Martial and Varane in training for United. (Getty Images)

While it may have been considered a disaster to lose Anthony Martial and Raphael Varane in a transfer window around a decade ago, the pair is far from their best currently and have failed to live up to expectations set at the club. Both players were once arguably the most promising in their respective positions in world football but have endured shocking falls from grace due to injuries.

Now, the club must focus on signing new players for sure, but should not be worried about being unable to rope in big-named players. Varane and Martial have retained their names over the years but arguably lost most of the qualities that helped them earn a name in the first place, so Manchester United must focus on bringing in a striker and a centre-back rather than players in those positions that resemble the outbound duo.