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Manchester United: 5 potential winners and losers from Erik ten Hag's appointment

Erik ten Hag
(Image credit: Getty)

New managers offer a fresh start; a chance for players frozen out to re-enter the picture... as well a threat to previously important players about their role in the new era.

Erik ten Hag is guaranteed to make big changes at Manchester United this summer. Things have been too stale, and too rudderless, for far too long and the man still in charge of Ajax until the end of the current season will be looking forward to stamping his mark on his new side. 

But which players will find themselves in his plans and who could be kicked to the curb? FFT makes its predictions...

Winner: Donny van de Beek

Donny van de Beek

(Image credit: PA)

An obvious candidate to benefit is Dutch midfielder Van de Beek. The 24-year-old was previously a key player for Ten Hag at Ajax, before finding himself a perma-sub at United. Currently on loan at Everton, Van de Beek remains desperate to make it at Old Trafford and should now be given a decent run of games to show what he's capable of. The new gaffer will know his game inside-out and he will be played to his strengths. It's now or never, Donny. 

Loser: Scott McTominay

Manchester United

(Image credit: Getty)

A key aspect of Ajax's play under Ten Hag has been the fluidity of their midfield three. The Dutchman likes his midfielders to be tactically flexible, technical players, who are comfortable receiving the ball in deep positions before driving forwards. While McTominay's midfield partner Fred may possess the intelligence to thrive under Ten Hag, the jury's out on McTominay. The Scot is industrious but not mobile or good enough on the ball and it's likely the 'McFred' portmanteau loses its prefix rather than its suffix. 

Winner: Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford

(Image credit: Getty)

The England forward has recently hinted he may be open to leaving Old Trafford after suffering with a loss of form and fitness over the past two seasons. Yet Ten hag could provide the perfect tonic. The new United coach's attacking play relies heavily on quick, inverted wingers cutting in from the flanks to take up shooting positions. There will finally be a proper plan when the Red Devils are in possession and Rashford could recapture his best form under the Dutchman. England fans will be pleased should the 24-year-old be fit and firing for the World Cup in November. 

Loser: Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Aaron Wan-Bissaka

(Image credit: Getty)

Another hallmark of Ten Hag teams is a reliance on full-backs playing a major role in the game. At Ajax, the coach occasionally asked defenders to switch places with midfielders and overload opposition teams in the middle of the pitch. On other occasions, he would ask his full-backs to push high and wide, allowing his wingers to cut inside and join the striker in the box. It's highly unlikely Wan-Bissaka boasts the confidence in possession to move into central-midfield and his crossing has been a constant source of criticism during his United spell. The Englishman could be one of the first players transfer listed. 

Winner: James Garner

James Garner

(Image credit: Getty)

The on-loan Manchester United midfielder has been one of the standout youngsters in the Championship this season, dictating play from the base of Nottingham Forest's midfield. The 21-year-old has four goals and five assists but what has impressed fans most is his passing range and his positioning when Forest lose the ball. The deep-lying playmaker could be an ideal solution to his parent club's midfield issues and, in Ten Hag, Garner has a coach famed for giving youngsters opportunities at the highest level. Frenkie De Jong is a generational talent, but even he relied on Ten Hag throwing him in at an early age. Garner could become a big player for United next season. 

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Ed McCambridge
Ed McCambridge

Ed is a staff writer at FourFourTwo, working across the magazine and website. A German speaker, he’s been working as a football reporter in Berlin since 2015, predominantly covering the Bundesliga and Germany's national team. Key FFT features include an exclusive interview with Jude Bellingham following the youngster’s move to Borussia Dortmund in 2020, a history of the Berlin Derby since the fall of the Wall and a celebration of Kevin Keegan’s playing career.