Ole Mark II? Manchester United are so much better under Erik Ten Hag with Eriksen and co

·13-min read
Manchester United midfielder Christian Eriksen Credit: PA Images
Manchester United midfielder Christian Eriksen Credit: PA Images

There have been some claims that Manchester United have just become a counter-attacking team again, but Christian Eriksen would never have played under Ole. And some of those goals have been sumptuous.

Watch some football on Tuesday night and send some views to theeditor@football365.com

 

Manchester United are far from Ole Mark II
Since the Arsenal game, I’ve seen a few references to Ten Hag reverting to Ole’s tactics to get results. Personally, I don’t think it matters how you play as long as you win. Putting that aside, I think the reason Ole failed was because of his insistence on playing Maguire-Lindelof and McTominay-Fred. He was incapable of evolving the team past those combinations, which to me pointed to a lack of imagination and outright favoritism.

We all remember when Axel Tuanzebe had that excellent game against PSG and Mbappe. It seemed like one of those performances where a young player finally came of age. I think he got one more game after that and was for some reason scapegoated for that Demba Ba goal against Basaksehir. That was that for Tuanzebe. We went back to the turgid Maguire-Lindelof duo and the rest is history.

Anyway, how can it be “Ole MK II ” when we don’t play with that defensive combination anymore? A combination that totally lacked pace and mobility, didn’t seem to gel communication-wise and had a few brainfarts a game in them. Yes we can play on the counter but having Martinez and Varane in defence gives us so much more confidence and structural integrity up the pitch. McTominay can concentrate on being a water carrier and breaking up attacks with his long limbs. The fact that he’s able to do that must be a testament to the system. There’s no way he has suddenly learned how to tackle or pass overnight.

Having Eriksen instead of Fred is also the total opposite of Ole because Eriksen can pass a ball and Fred cannot. Incredibly simple yet massive changes that can seismically shift games in our favour. If we can build and upgrade on this team as it stands and not let injuries/the odd bad spanking derail us, then we will be heading to the footballing promise land.
Mike, Manchester

 

…I see a groundswell of opinion forming, both from some United fans as well as those of other clubs, around how Ten Hag has come around to becoming Ole Mark II because this United side can only play counter-attacking football. When you’re ahead in a game, you’re perfectly within your rights to play counter-attacking. And yes, this team has the speed and the muscle memory to play excellent counter attacking football. So more power to them.

But United’s first goal against Arsenal with the scores level which came after an 18 pass move that spliced through the Arsenal team from front to back, United’s first goal against Liverpool, or the goals against Leicester or Southampton – none of these were counter attacking goals. TBH, I’m fine with people believing that United can only score counter attacking goals.

Also, with six games gone, the disastrous opening two games, are at least nuanced by the recognition that Brighton and Brentford appear to be (at this stage at least) the best of the rest, the only two teams that are rubbing shoulders with the top 6. Still no excuse for those performances, but we were well beaten by two very good teams.
Ved Sen, MUFC

 

Forget Pogba/Fraugba
Daniel, the urge to continue the argument on Fraugba looks extremely tempting. But i think it’s rather pointless as it’ll drag on unnecessarily. He’s long gone, alright. Besides, there’s a brighter sunrise (in Eriksen). ETH got lucky having one less Attention seeker on board when he arrived ( Hope the other one leaves Soon). So giving Fraugba the attention he so much craves, should not just be i think.
I lay down my Arms Daniel, let just continue to support our dearest MAN UTD and not let a divisive figure ruin this winning euphoric mood we’re currently on.
Ahmed Abdulrasheed

Proper Football Managers v Proper Football Men
It’s interesting to see many Man United fans writing into the mailbox about the improvement in shape, style, and performance of individual players now that they have an actual football manager in charge (The last two really weren’t football managers, the second one literally wasn’t).

As a Newcastle fan, we’ve seen the difference between having a proper football manager – someone who’s seriously trained, studied, and tested ideas as a manager rather than someone doing it for a bit of fun and taking it easy – players individually improve and the team looks much more coherent.

It’s why it amazes me that the old school proper football men still get any form of employment. Football is big business (although not as big as we might think financially) and yet the very elite clubs are very happy to have the head of the organisation be someone with no track record at the head of it. It’s almost akin to Tesco’s putting their top checkout worker as the CEO or the best mortgage seller at a bank in as regional director – it makes no sense.

Yet in football, for some reason, we accept it. Some ex-players go on to be great managers, but they must work, study, show amplitude before getting these jobs, rather than be given them just because. Lampard and Parker have got this a bit now – they haven’t done terrible jobs per se, but surely someone more qualified would do a better job.

And we also have the old school PFM still hanging around – with older names already surfacing around the Leicester and Bournemouth jobs. Why do people who consistently fail get jobs in football that you just don’t get in other walks of life. If you bankrupted your firm or made a catastrophic error, you wouldn’t just walk into a competitor, you’d have to re-earn your stripes – yet in football that’s not the case.

Why does this matter? Maybe it doesn’t at all. But I can’t help thinking of England, with our own Lampard/Parker in charge. Yes, he’s done a good job – but how much better a job could a proper football manager have done. The rumours of Graham Potter and England get louder – and that’s exciting – for exactly that reason. Imagine what this talented set of players could do with an astute tactician at the helm. Man U and Newcastle fans know it can make a world of difference, so fingers crossed it happens to England, too.
James, NUFC

 

Gunners will struggle twice a week
Wasn’t at all surprising that Arsenal had their first loss of the season after their first midweek game of the season (and in their first real test). They’ll still be a decent shot at making the top 4, but now that they have to play twice a week for a couple of months we’ll see them start to drop points with regularity. As pretty much everyone, except the football machines that the modern Liverpool and Manchester City are, has recently shown, it’s much easier to consistently pick up points at the start of the season when there’s no European football (or when out of Europe completely) than it is when playing every 3 days.
Alex

 

Missed opportunity for Arsenal
Transfers are complicated, Douglas Luiz wouldn’t have been my first choice, but we needed someone and Sambi and Xhaka cant be are only two fit central midfielders. The Odegaard and ESR double 8 has been tried 427 times and has failed 428 times. Its just a sad day, but we are Arsenal…we move.

As for AVFC…yes transfers are complicated. So if Douglaz Luiz signs a new contract then there was no need to spend £15m on Dendonker, if he doesn’t sign ..then you would missed out on £25m on a guy who is essentially your 5th choice central midfielder.. ..and you are not even in Europe so minimal games.

Transfers are really complicated, or maybe we robbed AVFC suits the wrong way…..did we not give them Callum Chambers for free?
Kuffy, Nigeria

 

Celebrate good times…twice
In relation to VAR, I keep seeing people saying that players no longer celebrate goals because they fear it may be ruled out. Now I will admit I don’t watch every game but is this really true? I’ve seen some players look at the linesman as they think they might be offside but this happened before VAR. I’d actually say now players sometimes get to celebrate goals twice. There are lots of issues with VAR but I’m not convinced this is one of the big ones.
Sam, Newtownabbey

 

Two unrelated thoughts
First, I am not sure that I would agree with the idea of abandoning VAR and leaving the decisions to the referees like we used to. One reason why VAR is frustrating is because we the public can scrutinize the decisions (or lack thereof) of VAR referees. We voice our opinions, which, hopefully, those referees will take on board in order to improve their performance. That is, VAR makes them accountable (to a degree). If we go back to the old way, I am not sure that we will have the same level of accountability.

Secondly, I am an Everton supporter, and I will always remember Richarlison’s contribution to our team last year. I like that he wears his heart on his sleeves. Still, I hope that he can rein himself in a bit and remain on the right side of the fringe.
Narat

 

Why are you angry at VAR? The referee makes the decision
There have been a lot of VAR letters. Which is understandable given there’s been some baffling decisions.

But everyone is missing the point. VAR isn’t the problem because VAR doesn’t make the call – the ref does.

On the FA website it states –
Can VAR overrule a referee?
No. The final decision is always taken by the on-field referee. The VAR only provides advice.

No matter how shit a VAR call is, it is the referee who is to blame as he is the one with the actual power to decide things. Before VAR existed did we have this amazing free flowing game without silly errors? No. It was exactly like it is now, you could argue worse.

Don’t believe me? Ask Battiston if referees of yesteryear were better without VAR. Schumacher broke his neck with a disgraceful challenge and not only did the ref not send Schumacher off he gave a free kick to Schumacher.

Still unconvinced? How about when an actual beach ball scored against Liverpool or when Howard Webb booked a player twice and didn’t send him off.

Poor refereeing is the problem, not a video replay – though I will concede it takes far too long here.

There is an interesting documentary on Netflix about a basketball ref who was fixing games for the mob, rather than making clearly cheating calls what he did was to just apply the rules to situations in which referees normally let the game flow. He managed to fix 80% of games doing that, different sport but it does highlight just how much a game can be influenced by differing application of the rules.

Refs need to be given less leeway and more strict guidance on what they’re allowed to call a foul. It’s stupid that one ref can see an obvious and intentional elbow to the ribs and call play on while another disallows a goal because a keeper felt an attackers leg hairs breeze his shoulder. The refs need to be told how strictly to apply the rules, whether it’s super lax or super strict I don’t care. It just needs to be consistent from all refs at all times.
Lee

 

John Nicholson’s review of VAR is right in some ways – it’s a shambolic load of cobblers, and the authorities have clearly not implemented it the way they said they would. The “clear and obvious” mantra is quite obviously not being applied and that is the nub of the problem. To say it can never be any different because to err is human is, though, bollocks. Equivalent review systems work pretty well in other sports like Rugby Union, Tennis, and Cricket. Aren’t they also also operated and/or designed by humans?. There is absolutely no reason a video review system can’t be effective and efficient in Football if operated in a sensible way by people who are not attention-seeking, power abusing, and possibly biased egomaniacs – i.e. PGMOL and their referees.

Like many fans I was in favour of VAR to help prevent decades of perceived injustices in favour of certain clubs – I’m sure you know who I mean. I envisaged a system similar to cricket where if a team felt wronged, the captain or manager could request a video review, with each team allowed a max of two appeals per game, and having to specify the particular issue they wanted reviewed.

Instead some ego maniac in Stockley Park decides which incidents will be forensically examined for any possible minute offence and which incidents will be ignored. The Referees club use it to verify their colleagues’ bad decisions, or to overturn decisions that don’t suit whatever agenda they may have. They have even revised and re-revised the application of the handball and offside laws a few times, and most of these tweaks have served to muddy the waters and give themselves wriggle room to able to “interpret” a particular decision. This lack of clarity, coupled with an apparent complete lack of accountability, allows them to be as inconsistent as they like. And they seem to like inconsistency a lot.

The fault does lie with the humans involved, but other sports, and even some other countries using video reviews for football, have shown that does not have to be the case. What it has to do with Brexit though is beyond me.
Kevin T Birmingham – UTV

 

…I read that they’re just about to roll out an improvement to VAR based on Hawkeye that uses 500th second vs current 50th second intervals, and analyses every limb on every player in real-time to give a decision in 20-30 seconds using 20 odd cameras.

It seems that this may actually give a definitive yes/no decision on off-sides and in a relatively acceptable timeframe.

In terms of other VAR decisions, the obvious improvement would be to turn the mics on – both the referee on the field and the VAR. Let us hear the discussion and the decision – at least our talking points would be based on the actual decision.

As a side point, ref’s mics should be on anyway when they explain decisions to the players. As for the abuse, our local leagues have added a 5 min sin bin for any abuse of the referee…it works great, even amongst the more argumentative of my brethren, who have no one to blame but themselves as they contemplate the game from the sidelines after giving serve.
Matthew (ITFC)

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