Manchester United news: Does Eric Ten Hag know what he has allowed himself to do after a rocky pre-season?

There was shallow confidence and pity in Erik ten Hag when he met with the press on Friday to talk about the start of the season that will define his professional career.

Director of Football John Murtaug hung his head around the door before he started checking that everything was fine and someone asked if Frenkie de Jong, United’s summer transfer target, was hiding around the corner. Laugh in every way.

This is what prep season looks like. Nobody lost a match. And if there is a new manager in charge, the inclination of human nature to be optimistic makes you think that he certainly can’t be as bad as he once was.

Manchester United coach, Erik Ten Hag, addresses the media on the eve of the new season

Manchester United coach, Erik Ten Hag, addresses the media on the eve of the new season

That was before questions about Ronaldo’s departure ahead of a full-time run in last Sunday’s friendly brought a tough response. “There were many players who left but the spotlight is on Cristiano and that’s not true,” Ten Hag said. “So do your research, many players have left.”

This is the standard psychology of the press conference: trying to distract from a very difficult personal issue by making it a public collective problem. Except that it’s Ronaldo, so unless United win every game between now and the end of the season, his name will appear at every press conference until his agent Jorge Mendes invokes an acceptable move or United sends him off.

This exchange was the tone of the new teacher who set the law with a particularly active group in Year 11, punctuated with a frown with some crap designed to hint that he could be an interesting teacher if everyone just got along with the class and showed him respect.

He was asked about the duty to attack and produce attractive and vibrant football. “You speak like a Dutchman!” He said smiling. They always want to play great football. That’s why I’m here and I love it. You want to win and you want to win a certain way: proactive, brave and adventurous.

Cristiano Ronaldo dominated his desire to leave the club in pre-season

Cristiano Ronaldo dominated his desire to leave the club in pre-season

Although Ten Hag is convinced that he can bring progress and success to United supporters

Although Ten Hag is convinced that he can bring progress and success to United supporters

“That’s what belongs in the Manchester United culture and we want to bring it in. But at the end of the day, if you can’t win in a good way, in an entertaining way, you still have to win. That’s the mentality and attitude we come in with.

He also enjoyed the streak of optimists everywhere, when asked about United’s failure to develop their young players.

He said, “Don’t look back, look forward.” “I see the potential with many players and I am convinced that I can develop the team. Then we will see the people develop. I have to analyze [the past]It’s obvious, but now we have to move on. You cannot change the past, but you can change the future.

All of the above are true and David Brent can also be his best. The past is always with you at United. This time next year it will be 10 years since Sir Alex Ferguson left and 10 years since United last won the title. This is barely jumping the gun. It’s not too daring yet to assert that United will not win the Premier League this season. The question is whether it will take another 10 years before they unite again?

Ten Hag participates in a discussion with Ronaldo during a pre-season friendly with Rayo Vallecano

Ten Hag participates in a discussion with Ronaldo during a pre-season friendly with Rayo Vallecano

The highlights of the past 10 years could fit into one of the 30-second TikTok clips that United social media pundits love: Jose Mourinho’s 2017 Europa League/League Cup double (the tin pot double); Louis van Gaal win the 2016 FA Cup; And perhaps a quick clip of the intense optimism generated by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s return to Paris Saint-Germain.

United now live for the odd win over Manchester City and Liverpool and to finish the top four. Leicester City have an even more impressive title record over the past 10 years. Into this fight comes Ten Hag, the good coach in Holland who has done wonders with Ajax and has yet to coach in the European Big League. United might tackle that and they didn’t have Ferguson in 1986.

However, to succeed in a league more competitive and significantly more advanced than Sir Alex had to beat, you might want to give Tin Hag the best possible chance by meticulously preparing the ground for him. Do not leave an effort without his heart. After all, it’s been clear since March that this is the direction United was headed.

You might imagine that all the major players have been signed before the Asia/Australia tour. That Ronaldo’s case will be sorted out one way or another. That team would be much better than this time last year.

The end of this campaign will mark 10 years since Sir Alex Ferguson's United won the Premier League title - the club was in a state of deflation in the following years

The end of this campaign will mark 10 years since Sir Alex Ferguson’s United won the Premier League title – the club was in a state of deflation in the following years

None of the above is correct. Anthony Martial, who was rejected by Sevilla during his loan spell, was the biggest pre-season hope until he got injured. Tin Hag is said to have made one thing clear when he was offered the job; He needed Frenkie de Jong, his former Ajax player, to be able to play the way he wanted.

This was a complicated move, with United affected by overpayments in the past and Barcelona withholding some of De Jong’s deferred wages, so that the player would not move until he was paid. However, if this is the summer’s most significant move, the onus is on CEO Richard Arnold and Murtough to get it done. They haven’t yet and Scott McTominay and Fred cannot play the way Ten Hag wants from midfield. Christian Eriksen may end up there.

Transfers made so far, Lisandro Martinez, Terrell Malacia and Christian Eriksen, feel complementing the team rather than changing the paradigm, although Eriksen may be inspiring.

Cristiano Ronaldo will speak as an issue throughout the season. Every furious sigh, every frown as he left the field would be meticulously analyzed, and based on Ten Hag’s reactions so far, the manager would be increasingly frustrated by it.

This summer United have been frustrated in their pursuit of Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong

This summer United have been frustrated in their pursuit of Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong

Indeed, it’s not Ronaldo’s fault that he’s the biggest monster in United’s jungle, compared to owner Joel Glazer, CEO Richard Arnold and Ten Hag. It is a situation that Sir Alex did not allow to happen. The existence of this situation is the result of United’s decline over the past nine years.

They have re-signed Ronaldo from a position of weakness and desperation, and in the 13 years since he left Old Trafford, the player has grown into a phenomenon as big as the club itself and a much stronger figure than the coach. This never ends well.

On Friday, you can’t help but remember another optimistic director who entered these press conferences with the same air of confidence and intent nine years ago. He, too, has not been tried at this level so far, due to reluctance in the summer transfer market, hoping in vain that Barcelona will sell him Cesc Fabregas, and his great signing for the new season ended with Marouane Fellaini, one of his former players.

Watching Ten Hag on Friday it was hard not to remember David Moyes, the kind man and great coach who took over what United have become.

It took Moyes nearly 10 years to restore his reputation from the United experience. I was hoping for the best for a hag tin. But you fear the worst.

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