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Steve Bruce urges Manchester United to give underfire boss Erik ten Hag time

Steve Bruce urges Man United to give Erik ten Hag time
© Reuters
Steve Bruce believes that Erik ten Hag must be afforded more time to turn Manchester United's fortunes around, after facing criticism for the team's start to the season.

Former Manchester United defender Steve Bruce has said that the club should be patient with manager Erik ten Hag, despite the heavy criticism he has faced this season.

The club find themselves down in sixth in the Premier League standings, five points adrift of the top four with roughly one-third of the season played.

An early EFL Cup exit paired with performances in the Champions League which have left them on the brink of elimination means that the prospect of a trophyless season is already very real for the Red Devils.

However, speaking to Sports Mole, Bruce believes that Ten Hag "ought to be afforded time" to turn Man United's fortunes around.

The ex-defender spent nine triumphant years at Old Trafford, but the early years under Sir Alex Ferguson brought limited success for United.

Steve Bruce in 1994© Reuters

Ferguson was afforded time though, and Bruce thinks the same should apply for Ten Hag, particularly considering the Dutchman's accomplishments at the club so far.

"Well certainly for me, the manager has proved what a good manager he is. When you look at last year, two cup finals and to finish in the top four, there would have been a lot of people who did not think that would be possible," he told Sports Mole.

"I think he's got to be afforded a bit of time, he's been hit with unbelievable injuries, especially defensively. He never seems to have a settled back four, with the injuries to [Luke] Shaw, [Lisandro] Martinez and [Aaron] Wan-Bissaka in particular.

"They have never really had a settled back four and I think that reflects on them because I think they have conceded three goals six times this year, which is really unheard of. But look, Man Utd is always in a crisis after two games. I think Ten Hag is a very, very good manager and I think he ought to be afforded time."

The United boss has been boosted by the return of Shaw to training this week after three months out, joining Wan-Bissaka in making a recent comeback.

Manchester United defender Luke Shaw is substituted on April 5, 2023© Reuters

Whether Shaw would be ready in time to face Everton on Sunday is not yet clear, and with Tyrell Malacia also out injured, there could be another start for Sergio Reguilon.

Bruce also believes that the ongoing uncertainty at boardroom level could be having an impact on the pitch by giving people "excuses", with Sir Jim Ratcliffe's proposed acquisition of 25% of the club and takeover of footballing matters still not official despite months of speculation.

Bruce has personal experience of a similar situation having been Newcastle United boss while the club was being taken over by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, and he stressed that it would be in everyone's interest for Ratcliffe's deal to be resolved as quickly as possible.

"Of course in the top end of the club, the quicker the ownership (is sorted the better). From my experience, it gives people excuses, so that needs to be addressed and done quickly because that has dragged on too long," he added.

"I fully understand how difficult it is when there is a potential takeover and it does not really happen because obviously it happened to me at Newcastle, where it did not seem to be going anywhere then all of a sudden it happened, and look at the benefits Newcastle have had from that, so the quicker the better in my opinion that it goes through."

Despite the pressure on the manager, United have won four of their last five Premier League matches, with Manchester City the only side to beat them in that run.

Ten Hag takes his United side to Goodison Park to face Everton in the Premier League's late kickoff on Sunday this weekend.

Steve Bruce was talking to Sports Mole on behalf of Gambling Zone.

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