Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville doesn’t think expectations for Erik ten Hag next season are too high, insisting it takes patience for the club to challenge at the top of the game again Premier League.
Ten Hag, who watched United’s defeat by Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday from the stands, officially took charge at Old Trafford on Monday. He met club staff at Old Trafford and Carrington, and held his first official press conference.
The Dutchman, who had never visited Old Trafford before Monday, will now be busy putting in place pre-season plans from June 27 and the new campaign which starts in August. A transitional summer is shaping up for United with many in and out expected in the summer transfer window.
READ MORE: What Erik ten Hag did on his first day as Manchester United manager
But while much optimism and excitement has greeted Ten Hag’s arrival at the club, a strict level of patience will be required. It’s something Neville agrees with, as he believes it will be difficult for Ten Hag – as well as Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta – to disrupt the top four of Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.
“He’s got a big job,” Neville said, speaking on his Sky Sports podcast. “Expectations for next season, with the four managers and four clubs ahead of him at the moment, will not be too high.
“Yes, United will want to get into the top four but there will be time and patience. [Thomas] Tuchel, [Antonio] Tale, [Jurgen] Klopp and [Pep] Guardiola – these four are beasts of managers.
“They win trophies all the time. They stand on that sideline and can devour you and devour you alive almost with their presence and their aura. The others still have a long way to go to achieve that. It’s a big challenge for the likes of Arteta and Ten Hag.”
Reflecting on what turned out to be a miserable campaign for United, Neville added: “It’s been a desperate season and Ten Hag got a taste of what the rest of us saw throughout. I don’t think not that a United fans wanted to watch a United game over the past few weeks – we almost wanted the season to end immediately and turn our attention to the summer and see how optimistic a new manager can arrive.
“It went from 12 months ago, when United were preparing for a Europa League final and finishing second to Liverpool, to where we are today. I can’t explain it.
“Ten Hag needs time to settle into the club and get used to the club. It’s a huge football club. The media here, the expectation… United are always the story.
“People want to see United win or they want to see them lose, that’s a reality. They will always be history even in a bad season like this because there is an element of wanting to watch a disaster – a football disaster – happening right before your eyes.
“The season is over and it has to be put to bed very quickly. It’s been a horrible season on and off the pitch.”
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