Manchester United’s results on the pitch in 2022 have been distinctly forgettable. Aside from a couple of Cristiano Ronaldo hat-tricks, there has been little to celebrate this calendar year.
The end to the current season can’t come quickly enough, and yet 2022 could go down in the books as a fantastic year for Manchester United.
Why so good? This is down to two key factors, one exit, and one arrival, and a second arrival could yet tip the scales further towards a pivotal year in United’s post-Ferguson era.
Let’s delve into the key reasons 2022 has already been a success, and could get even better…
Ed Woodward out
Ed Woodward officially departed his post as chief executive at the start of this year, a departure which has given United a fresh start.
No one person did as much damage to Manchester United over the past decade as Woodward did. From embarrassing to the club with over-confident statements in the press, to undermining managers behind the scenes, every step was a farce.
You can’t get more incompetent than signing Marouane Fellaini as the only signing of the summer in 2013, at £4 million more than the release clause in his contract at the start of the window, but Woodward gave it a real good go in the following years.
He burned through four permanent managers, while promising ‘We can do things in the transfer market that other clubs can only dream of. Watch this space’.
He was right, no other club would dream of spending £80 million on Harry Maguire.
He announced his departure on a night of shame when the Super League fell apart, but stuck around at the club into 2022 before leaving at the start of February.
Replacement Richard Arnold appears to know his limitations, and plans to build a team of smart football knowledge to run operations. One of Woodward’s faults was wanting to be front and centre, while Arnold is happy to be in the background.
Getting the Glazers out is the real dream, but until that magical day finally happens, getting rid of Ed Woodward is the best thing to happen to Manchester United since the league title win in 2013.
Erik ten Hag in
This could be a momentous year for United and the one we look back on as the time the club finally appointed the right manager.
United tried this before, in 2013, in 2014, 2016, and 2019 – so can 2022 be different? Ed Woodward’s departure gives it a real chance to be successful.
The club is getting organised behind the scenes, Ralf Rangnick has been making sure, telling United exactly what to do and how to do it.
Ten Hag has been successful at Ajax, and that no guarantee, but he is a manager who knows how to build, play attractive football with a solid defence, and is enthusiastic about developing young talent.
On the face of it this seems like a perfect fit, and unlike big name bosses Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, United have hired a coach on the rise at the right time in his career, rather than a former great whose best years were behind him.
There are no guarantees, and nobody expects Ten Hag’s impact to be immediate, but when we look back, this year could end up being the start of something really special.
Could Paul Mitchell follow too?
United are starting to look organised again, with Woodward gone, and John Murtough leading football operations behind the scenes with Rangnick’s help.
The final piece of the jigsaw could be hiring Paul Mitchell as head of recruitment to oversee Manchester United signing the right players.
This week United dispensed with the services of top scouts Jim Lawlor and Marcel Bout, clearing the decks for a new arrival. Bout had originally been hired as an assistant to Louis van Gaal before United promoted him to head of global scouting.
Mitchell was pictured with Rangnick at a FA Youth Cup game in March at Old Trafford, and the pair worked together previously at RB Leipzig, before he took up a position at Monaco.
The former Spurs recruitment chief hails from Manchester and there is a chance he could be tempted to join the new United regime. Adding him in would make this year even better.
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- Ajax’s last five managers before Ten Hag and where they are now
- Five Ajax players Ten Hag could sign for Manchester United
- Ten Hag’s comments when Van de Beek left Ajax for Old Trafford
- Six key issues for Manchester United’s next boss
- The three biggest wins of Ten Hag’s managerial career