Ten Hag risks Man Utd breakdown as four signs suggest days could be numbered

Erik Ten Hag Reacts To Man Utd Loss To Newcastle

Three consecutive Premier League wins in November temporarily eased the pressure on Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag. But a winless trip to Galatasaray and a dismal defeat against Newcastle United within the past week have once again raised questions about the Dutchman’s future.

Losing against the Magpies was not nearly as damaging as the performance itself at St James’ Park. Led by a blunt and lifeless attack in Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, United registered just one shot on target over the whole game.

And there were several other subtle signs to suggest that Ten Hag may be starting to lose the belief of his players. The first of which concerns a heated touchline exchange with Martial.

Ten Hag has established himself as an authoritative figure at Old Trafford, but his attempt to galvanise a low-energy Martial was met with a fiery response as the pair went back and forth in full view of the capacity crowd.

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The Frenchman at least engaged with his boss, which is more than can be said for a similarly disappointing Rashford during the second half, when Ten Hag repeatedly tried and failed to get his attention in order to deliver instructions.

It is unclear whether Rashford was purposefully ignoring the calls of the United boss, but the 26-year-old made it clear that he was not a happy camper when cameras picked him up muttering angrily under his breath after being substituted.

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The warning signs continued after the game when Red Devils players, one by one, walked past Ten Hag without even glancing in his direction. And finally, the mood among the squad has become so down that most United stars were on their way off the pitch by the time assistant coach Steve McClaren forced them to go back and applaud the travelling supporters.

Ten Hag’s high-risk approach means that he has to maintain unity in the dressing room. The former Ajax boss has shouldered huge responsibility by asking the club to spend millions on players he is familiar with.

He opened himself up to other avenues of potential criticism by dropping Cristiano Ronaldo, banishing Jadon Sancho from first-team training and demoting World Cup-winner Raphael Varane to the bench.

With Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Liverpool coming up over the next two weeks, performances will need to pick up dramatically, and Ten Hag will be desperate to avoid the kind of concerning signs on show at St James’ Park if he is serious about keeping his job.

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