Erik ten Hag’s first Man Utd mission clear as Ralf Rangnick ‘plans’ Arsenal team selection

Rangnick believes full pre-season will help ten Hag at Man Utd

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Incoming Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag could do worse than to set about restoring Harry Maguire’s confidence as a matter of priority once he takes over this summer. Interim manager Ralf Rangnick is reportedly set to drop the club captain for Saturday’s clash against Arsenal after a tough few weeks on and off the pitch. 

Ten Hag’s mission to set United back on the right path is due to be subsidised with a healthy wad of transfer funds to splash on new recruits. Supposedly with £120million to burn, the Dutchman could make significant changes to the Red Devils’ squad before the summer is out. 

But he could also find tremendous value in extracting more out of those already at the club. Maguire is undoubtedly one of the players to have under-performed this season, and could play a crucial role in propelling the team back towards the top of the table if he rediscovers the confidence to be a capable and competent leader. 

That will not happen overnight. In fact, it may be a case of going backwards before he can go forwards as The Athletic claim that Rangnick is preparing to drop Maguire for Saturday’s showdown with Arsenal. Weeks of torrid form were followed up with a bomb scare at his family home this week, and his demotion to the bench is believed to be on ‘compassionate terms’. 

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Maguire cost a whopping £80m back in 2019 after two sparkling seasons with Leicester City. His haul of 42 England caps and crucial role in helping the Three Lions to the Euro 2020 final last summer is a testament to what he brings to the table when on song. 

Gareth Southgate has shown unwavering faith in the 29-year-old, and he continues to be a regular fixture in Red Devils line-ups despite fierce criticism during the team’s struggles this campaign. Belief from various managers suggests that they feel Maguire’s poor performances are little more than a blip. 

The problem for Rangnick and the Red Devils is that coming out the other side is taking longer than expected. Tension at Old Trafford has created a tough environment in which to regain confidence, although Ten Hag’s arrival could improve things in that regard after his appointment was met with a broadly positive reaction. 

The Dutchman has nurtured a reputation for developing youngsters and unearthing hidden gems, but he will also need physicality, experience and leadership in his side. Maguire stands 6ft 4in tall, boasts almost 500 senior club appearances and is still the club captain, not to mention that they don’t come much more physical than the one endearingly termed ‘slab head’ by Jamie Vardy. 

Ten Hag may have no choice but to get to work on restoring Maguire’s confidence as it is highly unlikely that he will be going anywhere. Under contract until 2025 and with nobody queueing up to shell out for him after a troubled season, the centre-back’s immediate future seems bound for Old Trafford. A prominent figure in the United and England camp when at his best, the new manager could turn the Sheffield-born defender into somebody he can count on. 

Rangnick planning to take him out of the spotlight so that the rebuild can begin may be a move beneficial for all parties, and it is a bold decision the German can afford to make with his exit from touchline duties already assured in five games’ time. 

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