Casemiro’s ban gives Manchester United star last chance to win a place in Ten Hag’s plans

Erik ten Hag has already shown how ruthless he can be at Manchester United and he’s sure to be so again this summer.

Whether it’s removing captain Harry Maguire from the squad after two games, refusing to give way to Cristiano Ronaldo or sending Jadon Sancho on a weeks-long hiatus until fully ready to play, United’s new boss has shown courage in taking difficult decisions and the will to follow them. Almost every decision has paid off enormously and only further ingratiated Ten Hag with his supporters.

But more critical elections and tougher tests will come. The great improvements and successes that the Dutchman has already achieved mean that his goals will increase considerably next season. A return to the top four and perhaps an end to the trophy drought was the best United fans had hoped for last summer and that is well on its way to being surpassed in Dick Fosbury style.

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With one trophy already in the bag, two more certainly possible and a return to the Champions League all but assured, Ten Hag have come through massively in their first season and that has created a great deal of optimism. But with optimism comes inflated expectations and United are expected to launch a serious challenge for the Premier League title next season.

United have flirted with the title race at a few points this year, but are currently a level beyond them. It took Arsenal more than three years of patient and often turbulent construction under Mikel Arteta to be in his position, so there’s no shame in that. But it’s clear that the United squad isn’t good enough as a whole to make a serious challenge for the jackpot. When top players have been unavailable, their replacements haven’t been able to step up.

Ten Hag is fully aware and will make more moves to improve his ranks in the summer. While that will require more additions, it will also mean moving players who haven’t been consistently good enough not only this season, but long before.

It is understood that Maguire, the perpetually injured Anthony Martial and loanee Alex Telles are currently on the list to be sold in the summer. Brandon Williams, Anthony Elanga and Donny van de Beek’s time at the club could also be at stake, while Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe may be released. It looks like a big cleanup is on the horizon.


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