Manchester United are preparing for the start of the new campaign. Earlier than usual, the Premier League is set to kick off this weekend and Man United will be hosting Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday, in their first competitive match since the arrival of new manager Erik ten Hag. This will be a good opportunity for fans at Old Trafford to see how could things work under the Dutch manager, who is expected to make some radical changes to the culture around club. With the start of every campaign, there is an increase in expectations, a kind of adrenaline rush among the fans, who are hoping for the best in the upcoming 10 months.
But what would those expectations be for Manchester United fans right now? After the team’s worst points tally in a Premier League season since its creation in 1992, it is good question to have. United had finished in sixth place, have qualified for Europa League, and were far from winning any kind of silverware in the other three competitions. There were managerial changes, horrrible defeats – including a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of next rival Brighton – and there were no hopeful comebacks to at least reach Champions League football.
Because of that, United have another problem this summer – Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese superstar has been doing his best to leave Man United this summer in search of a club where he could play in the Champions League. But it seems that he will have to settle with staying at United – at least as of now – and help his team reach that competition next season. With United signing just three players so far in this transfer window, it is tough to predict where they could end up. Tyrell Malacia joined from Feyenoord, Lisandro Martinez from Ajax, while Christian Eriksen arrived after his time at Brentford, as a free agent. Clearly, Ten Hag is expecting more signings in these last four weeks of the summer transfer window. A striker, a central midfielder and a right-back are mentioned in the media as his wishes, but the club’s work so far has not been so swift.
So would a Champions League qualification suffice this coming season? It seems that for everyone’s best interests is that there are no great expectations of this first season. It is hard seeing United challenge for the biggest titles in the Premier League or, even worse, in Champions League. The possibility of winning a domestic cup competition is always there and that would be a huge boost for Ten Hag for the season after this one.
But with the way the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool have been meticulously building their squads for years, it is hard to see this United team get so much closer to them. Last season, they were miles behind those two teams. This year could be just the first stepping stone towards making that gap a little bit smaller. United have put themselves in a really poor situation and now time and careful planning will be necessary for Ten Hag and his team.