The expectation when Erik ten Hag arrived at Manchester United was that he would attempt to implement the attacking, possession-based style of play that served him so well at Ajax.
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That certainly seemed to be the case in the Dutchman’s first two matches in charge. Man Utd dominated possession against both Brighton and Brentford, but had no points to show for it and found themselves bottom of the Premier League.
Ten Hag responded by dropping Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw for the visit of Liverpool, but he also made a more subtle tweak that has coincided with their dramatic upturn in form.
After seeing so much of the ball in their opening fixtures, Man Utd had less than 30 per cent of possession against Jurgen Klopp’s side, yet claimed a vital 2-1 win.
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It’s a theme that’s continued in their games since. Southampton made more passes in the opposition half when Man Utd came to St Mary’s but ended up losing 1-0 – as did Leicester, despite also having more of the ball than Ten Hag’s side at the King Power Stadium.
Arsenal dominated much of the play at Old Trafford on Sunday – ending up with more than 60 per cent of possession – but were well-beaten by full-time as Man Utd exposed Mikel Arteta’s team on the counter-attack.