Erik Ten Hag and Man Utd’s brutal Chelsea lesson proves Frank Lampard right on Pochettino claim
Manchester United’s revival under Erik ten Hag demonstrates that Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea is not a lost cause, with Frank Lampard’s prediction about the Blues proven correct.
Ralf Rangnick did not mince words when explaining the enormous work that would be required when Erik ten Hag came to Old Trafford 12 months ago.
Rangnick claims that “you don’t even need glasses to see and analyze where the problems are.” “Now the question is, how do we solve them?” It is not enough to make simple changes – cosmetic changes. “This is referred to as an open heart operation in medicine. If this occurs, and everyone recognizes that it must occur, and if people want to collaborate, it makes sense, and I believe it does not take two or three years to change those things. This might happen within a year.”
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Even though Rangnick was chastised by some intellectuals in the football media, his prediction that with the right work, it could only take a year was true.
It’s easy to forget what a shambles United were. They have lost their previous six Premier League away games, including a 4-0 thrashing at Anfield. The dressing room appeared broken, the team appeared to be a collection of people on the field, and supporters were naturally dissatisfied throughout the season. Chelsea supporters, does this sound familiar?
After a year, United appears to be a competent football squad once more. A collective that is not perfect, but rather reflects the value that has been placed in it. A facile victory over this current Chelsea side was unremarkable given the Blues’ plodding performances this season, but it ensured Champions League status for next season.
Ten Hag have already surpassed their previous season’s record of 72 points, with one more win against Fulham on Sunday. Add to that a Carabao Cup title, a spectacular win over Barcelona, and Marcus Rashford’s revival – plus an FA Cup final versus rivals Manchester City – and the positives exceed the disadvantages.
This is the model that Mauricio Pochettino hopes to repeat at Chelsea next season. Ten Hag hasn’t had it all his way this year, and there have been some high-profile setbacks. The 7-0 thrashing at Anfield, which was worse in terms of score than the previous season, stood out as a bad day. Last month’s two-leg defeat to Europa League specialists Sevilla was similar. It’s easy to forget that Ten Hag began his tenure with successive defeats to Brighton and Brentford; there were already doubts about his ability to coach his system at the time.
There was also Cristiano Ronaldo’s superstar dilemma, which might have weakened his authority with the forward’s public tantrums when not playing against Tottenham. But in both situations, he has emerged victorious. Adapting his method to the resources at his disposal to get results, Ronaldo, did not succumb to the pressures of stardom, instead relying on players that strategically fit his approach.
Chelsea will not have a Ronaldo, but they will have senior heads who will need to handle sensibly following a turbulent period. Even if Chelsea’s planned summer car boot sale succeeds in reducing the team to a more manageable number, there are still players whose futures remain uncertain.
Pochettino has demonstrated throughout his career that he has the character to make bold decisions and to fire those who do not suit the broader strategy.
No comment summed up the Argentine’s feelings more than when discussing his approach to guiding fresh players. “When a player signs a contract, they must realize that they are not signing a contract to play games.” You agree to train and sign a contract. Then you wait for the team to be chosen by the manager.”
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Frank Lampard has done little to improve his coaching credentials in a grueling caretaker stint since Easter, but he emphasized how fine a job he can do with the talent available to his successor following the setback at United. “I think it’s a fantastic job because it’s the Chelsea job,” she says. “I knew I got it the first time I came in because a lot of top managers didn’t want it [because of the transfer ban], I know for a fact.”I appreciated the process of coming in, and I wish the new manager success. I’m not sure [whether it will be difficult], but that’s his concern.”
Pochettino, unlike Lampard, does not have a crutch of having too few players; instead, his biggest difficulty is having too many. However, this job does not have to be a poisoned chalice, as the Man United position may have been last year.
Football evolves at a rapid pace. Pochettino, Chelsea, and a battered new ownership will be hoping Ten Hag is an indication that Chelsea’s “open heart surgery” will go as well.
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