SOCCER

Erik ten Hag gets a crash course on Manchester United dysfunction

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Even people who don’t care about Manchester United have to admire the myriad ways in which officials circle their own tree, climb a leg and empty themselves. Even with Barcelona buying players with the Spanish version of Confederate money and Paris Saint Germain dealing with the problem of shoveling money to a problem it never solved by buying a bigger shovel, Man U is always the most gigantic urine-soaked oak tree in the middle. from the clearing.

So of course they would hire a new manager and tell him that the new mandate from above is to lower expectations. As typed by ESPN’s Rob Dawson, new manager Erik ten Hag walked into a room of demoralized but empowered players, realizing that until he could infuse the team with his guys, he would have to face the guys who were inflicted on him, and chose the sensible route of bulking up before bending. Only in the Man U boardroom they wanted him to lose the room as soon as possible to make it clear to the outside world that the players are what ruined the Manchester United juggernaut. Dawson:

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United finished sixth in the Premier League last season, 13 points outside the Champions League places and 35 points behind champions Manchester City. It prompted some Old Trafford staff to advise Ten Hag to keep early expectations ‘realistic’ as the bulk of the squad remained the same, but the new United boss was optimistic about his squad’s hopes for the new campaign this summer. He also chose to talk about the players he inherited – including squad issues, such as central midfielder – in a bid to restore morale in the dressing room after concluding he had been badly damaged by a miserable season under Ole Gunnar. Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick.

So they brought on Ten Hag after a decade of stupendously underperforming by club standards and immediately gave him a mandate to fix it his way as long as his path coincided with theirs. Come on, Erik, tell them they suck and then tell the outside world they’ve been told they suck. It’s good for their character. Oh, and when they dump you and we have to fire you in four months, we can bring in Jesse Marsch to inject helium into their shorts again because we need them to feel well in their own skin.

This in a nutshell explains Manchester United under the Glazer boys. They hardly know enough to save themselves, which is an exercise in self-cannibalization of epic proportions. Thing is, this is a job that has the front office completely on the sidelines because they’ve had all this time to make Man U a laughingstock and instead turned him into the whole thing. Edinburgh Fringe. Instead, they want to tell their new hire that even though they admired his work, they really want him to do their job. It’s like the Miami Dolphins, except they stopped offering to bribe their coach to deliberately lose games. It’s also like the old Buzzcocks lyrics from “Sixteen Again”: “If you can’t think once, then don’t think twice.”

Look, there’s no crime in not knowing what you’re doing. Rob Walton bought the Denver Broncos for nearly $5 billion without knowing how to pronounce Roger Goodell’s name, which is either a spectacular misunderstanding of what you just bought or a delightfully evil way of letting Goodell know that the CEO doesn’t care. on the names of the night watchman’s children. But the key to not knowing what you’re doing is knowing you don’t know what you’re doing, and the next trick is to hire someone who does and then let them do what they do. he or she must do to save your worthless, ignorant asses.

And maybe by ignoring the top of the org chart, Ten Hag is saying just that…Look, you have a full-time job to get into your bathroom door without opening it first, so I’m going to do this as I think best. Otherwise, why hire me? It’s an interesting bet that allows him to keep his dignity while updating his resume just after Boxing Day. Because the most truthful truth of all is, whether dark, stupid, blind or insane, decision makers will make decisions, and the thing the children of Man U know best how to decide is how to undermine his own hires . Ten Hag is his eighth manager in nine years, including interims, which is more than the Sacramento Kings in the same span. The idea that the Manchester United board are doing a worse job than Vivek Ranadive should be a lot more disappointing than it sounds.

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