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Liverpool FC and Jurgen Klopp have given Manchester United and Erik ten Hag a resurrection blueprint

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Jürgen Klopp and Erik ten Hag. (Image: Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

Manchester United’s season has been slow thus far but their great rivals have shown what can come next

Vincent Kompany probably had it right this week when he said big clubs are never more than one game from a crisis.

He will be hoping to pile more misery on Manchester United this weekend, a club for whom crisis might be their middle name such have been the travails of the past few years. The Reds have lost their last three matches in all competitions, have an array of injuries and question marks over their style and identity. That’s just on the pitch without looking deeper behind the scenes.

Tonight’s Turf Moor trip pits a team that have played three lost and three at home against one that have played three and lost three away. Something has to give.

United’s start to the season has been a poor one with home performances disappointing and away results non-existent. Six points from five games is not good enough. There are mitigating circumstances and the Reds can look down the road to Merseyside for a blueprint on how to turn things around.

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Liverpool are among the early pacesetters this term but things were far from rosy in the Anfield garden a year ago. They won only two of their first eight games, taking just 10 points, and even when they seemed to kickstart their campaign with home wins over Manchester City and West Ham they promptly lost to Nottingham Forest and Leeds United.

It meant they only had 16 points from their opening dozen games with twice as many defeats (four) as they suffered in the entirety of the previous campaign. They too were suffering with a glut of injuries not dissimilar to the current problems at Old Trafford.

And while the Merseysiders ended the season without a trophy or Champions League football, they finished it with an 11-game unbeaten run and then finessed a summer overhaul. Out went the likes of Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita – squad players with little re-sale value. Jurgen Klopp had already added Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo prior to those departures and strengthened further this summer, bringing in younger players equipped for the system he plays.

It’s something Erik ten Hag can mirror. His start to this season has been as poor as Liverpool’s was last, the injury mitigation stood for both clubs, and the way Klopp’s side finished last term, trimmed their deadwood in the summer and continued their on-pitch momentum this season is a process Ten Hag and United could easily achieve.

The Old Trafford squad overhaul is underway but unfinished. This could well be the final campaign for Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay, Anthony Martial, Jadon Sancho and others who are no longer first choice and no longer required. Rasmus Hojlund is spearheading the new era and a summer of further change in 2024 could boost the Reds further and provide them with the ability to hit the ground running for Ten Hag’s third season. It might mean step back this term to make two steps forward next.

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And here’s something else to ponder: Klopp’s third full season in charge at Anfield brought the Champions League trophy.

-MEN

 

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Premier League

Sancho back in training with Man United after positive meeting with Ten Hag

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Jadon Sancho was back training with Manchester United for the first time in 10 months, with a club source confirming the winger and manager Erik ten Hag have resolved their differences following their public fallout last year.

Sancho and Ten Hag had a positive meeting at Carrington Training Centre and the two have decided to draw a line under last season’s drawn-out argument, the club source said.

The 24-year-old Sancho made just three appearances for United last season, spending the second half of the campaign on loan to Borussia Dortmund after his relationship with Ten Hag soured in September.

Ten Hag had left the winger out of his squad for United’s 3-1 loss to Arsenal, saying Sancho’s performances in training had not warranted a place in his team. Sancho immediately lashed out on social media, accusing Ten Hag of making him a “scapegoat.”

He was banished from the first team and trained with United’s youth squad before returning to his former club Dortmund in January, where he shone during their Champions League semi-final victory against Paris St Germain, earning praise from Ten Hag. Dortmund were beaten by Real Madrid in the final.

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“(Sancho) is a very good player… he showed why Manchester United bought him and he showed he represents a high value for Manchester United, which is good,” Ten Hag told reporters following Dortmund’s 1-0 win over PSG in the first leg.

“I’m happy for Jadon, for the performance, and we’ll see what is going to happen in the future.”

Sancho will not travel with the team to Norway for their pre-season opener against Rosenborg since he began training later than the other players but the club source said he would be available for selection after that.

-Reuters

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Another Nigerian blood replaces Ndidi at Leicester

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Wilfred Ndidi who has just left Leicester City will have another Nigerian blood replacing him.

Leicester has never been without a Nigerian since Ahmed Musa joined in 2016. Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho joined in 2017.

Another Nigerian blood, Caleb Okoli, a centre back, has just been signed from Italian  Serie A side Atalanta on a five-year contract. Born in Itali, Caleb Okoli is Igbo and Yoruba by descent.

The 22-year-old, who spent the last season on loan at Frosinone Calcio, represented Italy at the European Under-21 Championship last year.

“I think now is the right moment (for me) to make a step forward and a very big one. I’m very happy with the choice I made, so I’m very excited to start in the Premier League,” Okoli said in a statement. The clubs did not disclose financial details of the deal.

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Ruud van Nistelrooy returns to Man United

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United legend Van Nistelrooy is expected to be announced as one of Erik ten Hag's assistants

Manchester United legend, Ruud van Nistelrooy has been spotted being driven into Carrington, the training ground of Manchester United.

Ruud van Nistelrooy (left) and Rene Hake arrived at Manchester United’s training ground

Reports have it that the Dutchman is set to be appointed as one of Erik ten Hag’s new assistant coaches.

He played for Manchester United from 2001 to 2006.

Now  48, he reportedly turned down job offer from Burnley to return to his old club, having previously led PSV Eindhoven to second place in the Eredivisie and victory in the Dutch Cup.

He is being joined by Rene Hake, 52, who was persuaded to give up his job as Go Ahead Eagles manager despite leading the Deventer-based club into Europe for only the third time in their history.

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