When Manchester United made it to the Champions League last season, it was seen as a sign of Erik ten Hag’s impact, signaling a revival after a series of managerial troubles. It felt like everything was getting back to normal.
Ten Hag even went on to win the EFL Cup in his very first season in charge. But this year’s disappointing Champions League run raises eyebrows on his influence.
A Disastrous Campaign
The United campaign was a disaster, ending at the bottom of the group, behind Bayern Munich, FC Copenhagen, and Galatasaray.
The Champions League exposed the true self of United and how much they were lacking in parallel to their English equivalents.
The exit was meek, and the team didn’t persevere in a game that ended 1-0 in favor of Bayern. Bayern were cruising with nothing much at stake.
However, the United side just made one shot on target – a single shot.
It starkly contrasts the electric Old Trafford nights when fans stayed glued to their seats till the final whistle. United has let down their loyal fans, who spend endless hours in online ticket queues and trusted marketplaces, such as Seatsnet, to get United tickets.
A Tale of Conceding
Their stats tell a deafening story – four points in six games and 15 goals – most by any Premier League team in a UEFA Champions League group stage.
The team’s issues go deep, needing more organization, tactics, and quality. Andre Onana’s poor form in goal has not helped the team.
His mistakes cost United points, such as the errors that gifted goals in the 3-3 draw with Galatasaray.
It was a definite must-win game, but Onana’s cardinal errors saw the side conceding two goals that Glatarasaray wasn’t supposed to score.
Replacing David de Gea with Onana has not worked well, and United’s performance has yet to improve. They blew leads against Copenhagen and Galatasaray thanks to a lack of control and discipline.
The red card for Rashford in Denmark was a turning again that led to another damaging loss.
Despite wanting to win the game, United only managed five shots, clearly showing what’s lacking at the club.
Despite the poor game, the fans who traveled for the away game were patient and silent. This United team fell short of the club’s expectations and was again fooled by a good few weeks.
This campaign revealed the shortcomings and pitfalls the club urgently needs to fix.
Finishing at the Bottom was the Right Outcome
Looking back, the finish at the bottom of the table was the right outcome for the side, which had played less-than-average football throughout the tournament. It isn’t unfair. It is the right result.
They’ve shown they are far from par with teams like Bayern, Manchester City, or Real Madrid.
Ten Hag is facing trouble once again and needs to turn things around. The positivity from the last season has vanished.
Just last week, Manchester United took all the Premier League awards for the month. The manager of the month went to Erik Ten Hag for his turnaround in November, Harry Maguire was the Player of the Month in November, and Alejandro Garnacho took the month’s goal.
Yet, the team failed to make it through to the next week in this winning spirit.
Now, Ten Hag faces a challenging task to turn things around. With Liverpool and tougher fixtures coming up before the end of the year, it will be daunting.
Adding to the challenges, he has to play without players such as Shaw, Maguire, and Fernandes, who are all injured.
United might have hoped their return to the Champions League signaled their comeback, but failing to qualify for the Europa League shows they’re far from the level they aspire to reach.
FC Copenhagen Qualify for the Round of 16
United’s misery has helped FC Copenhagen to qualify for the Round of 16 for the second time in their football history.
Copenhagen, the Danish champions, defied expectations in achieving this feat, reaching the round of 16 for the first time since 2010-11.
The qualification came with a win against Galtarasary, where Copehnahgen’s defense held firm,
Galatasaray tried to rally back into the match, but a missed opportunity by Kerem Akturkoglu, shooting over the bar, dashed their hopes.
Saudi Champions League?
While the Champions League will return in 2024, one of the most exciting developments coming from Saudi Arabia is their interest in the tournament.
Many social media platforms and reseller chat boards on Seatsnet are seeing insider reports on Saudi Arabia looking to buy the franchise.
What do we know?
The Saudi Pro League’s climb to attract notable football starts has put them in an intriguing position – to acquire the entire Champions League franchise.
This is one of the discussed pointers around the Saudi Pro League. A scenario of this nature could be possible as the consortium can capitalize on the surging crude oil prices to procure the prestigious tournament.
The article ‘Outrageous Precitions’ shows a Saudi vision fueled by the rise in oil prices, aiding the transformation from an oil-dependent economy to a thriving hub for tourism and entertainment.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s football enthusiasm has helped revitalize the Saudi Pro League, featuring it as one of the top football leagues globally by roping in world-class players.
Now, the onus is on another daring move – acquiring the UEFA Champions League.
Hansen and Cramer Larsson envisage a bold move: the Kingdom’s acquisition of the UEFA Champions League. With FIFA’s backing, Saudi officials aim to reshape it into a FIFA World Champions League, a global club competition encompassing 48 teams.
Their proposal guarantees spots for European clubs and extends invitations to teams from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, and Oceania.
This audacious maneuver could impact the financial landscape of top European clubs. After the speculated Saudi takeover, Hansen and Cramer Larsson predict a surge in Manchester United’s stock price, coinciding with a rise in Brent crude oil rates.
While these predictions might seem far-fetched, they offer an intriguing glimpse into a hypothetical scenario where football and finance align. Only time will tell how this scenario plays out in the next few years.