CHRIS SUTTON: Manchester United's new manager has his work cut out

CHRIS SUTTON: Manchester United’s new manager has his work cut out with these prima donnas and Michael Carrick is unlikely to change the mentality… if I was on the board, I’d be voting for Erik ten Hag

  • Michael Carrick will struggle to change Manchester United in just 48 hours 
  • It remains to be seen whether he can convince his prima donnas to run for him 
  • He will demand, however, that every player gives nothing less than their all 
  • Erik ten Hag has impressed at Ajax and United should hire him as their new boss 

What can Michael Carrick change in 48 hours in charge? Can he convince Manchester United’s prima donnas to run for him or defend from the front in a way Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could not?

In possession, United are a pretty good side. Out of possession, they’ve been one of the worst and I’d be amazed if Carrick can change that mentality in such a short space of time.

The ideal outcome for United in Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Villarreal would, of course, be a comfortable win.

Michael Carrick may find it difficult to motivate Manchester United’s prima donna players

No stoppage-time Hail Mary in the hope Cristiano Ronaldo is in the right place at the right time to save them again. No players walking off that pitch in shirts that aren’t drenched in sweat.

That includes you, Ronaldo, and you, Bruno Fernandes.

In the reverse fixture at Old Trafford, Villarreal had 15 shots. They were allowed far too much space in midfield, but that wasn’t all the fault of Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba. With United’s forwards not dropping back, McTominay and Pogba were left with too much to do.

United will hope they won’t have to rely on more Cristiano Ronaldo heroics against Villarreal

With United’s forwards not dropping back, McTominay and Pogba were left with too much to do. Villarreal would have led 3-0 inside 15 minutes were it not for David de Gea denying Arnaut Danjuma twice and Paco Alcacer.

So much is riding on the result for United. Carrick, after assisting Solskjaer, may not change anything radically. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t use a back four and a midfield two, or Fernandes at No 10 and Ronaldo No 9.

He’s only had a training session or two in charge, so he might see springing a new set-up on the side as detrimental.

What he will demand is that they don’t give anything less than their all. United’s habit of not doing that, including in the dismal 4-1 defeat at Watford, is a big reason Solskjaer won’t be in the dugout.


The fact that United have appointed an interim while they search for an interim is just odd. It’s amateurish. It screams of a half-hearted action.

Where’s the ambition? Where’s the permanent manager? Why procrastinate? They’ve bowed to fan pressure without a plan. They like Mauricio Pochettino, apparently, and Pochettino likes them. If that’s the case, go and get him now.

If I was in the United boardroom, I’d be voting for Erik ten Hag. Who hasn’t been impressed by Ajax under his guidance? 

Erik ten Hag has impressed at Ajax and his compensation is fair – United should move for him

His contract lasts until 2023, so compensation wouldn’t be crazy and United would be negotiating with a familiar face – Ajax CEO Edwin van der Sar. I bet Donny van de Beek would be pleased with that appointment!

United’s dithering meant they missed out on Antonio Conte. His impact at Tottenham is being felt now.

United need a top-level coach, someone with clout who can sort them out – not only from next season onward.


Harry Maguire

Maguire was shown a second yellow card after clumsily losing the ball to Watford’s Tom Cleverley on Saturday, contributing to the final nail in his manager’s coffin.

No team in the Champions League have committed more errors leading to shots than United. Maguire needs to be right on his game.

Bruno Fernandes

He had no problem shouting at United’s travelling supporters at the end of the game at Vicarage Road. Maybe do your talking on the pitch instead! 

You haven’t scored since September 11 or even managed a Premier League shot on target since West Ham on September 19. It’s a fresh start, so rediscover your form. 

Bruno Fernandes should do his talking on the pitch and rediscover his form in the fresh start

David De Gea

De Gea made some super saves in the first fixture against Villarreal and he wasn’t shy of saying how he felt after the Watford loss. 

United’s ‘keeper has been performing well and this is another big night for him. 

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