How long will Erik ten Hag need to restore success to Man United?

The great Ten Hag debate: Paul Lambert believes he can deliver right away, legends Rio, Rooney and Robson say three years to usurp Liverpool and City but Neville and Cole fear it’ll be FIVE years or more to get Man United winning trophies again!

  • Erik ten Hag has been officially announced as Manchester United’s next boss
  • He joins a club at a very low ebb after five seasons without winning a trophy
  • Ten Hag’s arrival has sparked a debate over how long he’s going to need
  • Paul Lambert sees no reason why Ten Hag can’t win something next season
  • United legends Gary Neville and Andy Cole are more pessimistic about things

So the humongous task of restoring Manchester United to past glories will fall on the shoulders of Erik ten Hag.

The Dutch coach will be the Old Trafford club’s next permanent manager, seeking to arrest almost a decade of decline at England’s biggest club following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

The fact Ten Hag will be United’s fifth permanent manager since 2013 only underlines the dysfunction that has followed the dynasty of success and silverware achieved by Ferguson.

Erik ten Hag has been confirmed as the new manager of Manchester United this week

The Dutch coach faces an enormous task to drag United out of their ongoing decline

Ten Hag delivered success to Ajax, winning two league titles and two Dutch Cups – but the question remains over whether he can replicate that at United

And it seemed altogether fitting that 36 hours before the official announcement of Ten Hag’s appointment, a gutless performance saw United thrashed 4-0 by fierce rivals Liverpool at Anfield.

A season that promised so much for United has become a car crash and it’s now five years since the club lifted a trophy of any description.

So, realistically, how long will it be until Ten Hag is expected to deliver success. First season? Two to three years? Four or five?

In the aftermath of the Ten Hag appointment, former players and pundits were divided on what the expectations should be.


Paul Lambert, speaking on Sky Sports News, suggested that Ten Hag will actually be targeting silverware during this first season in England.

The former Scotland midfielder said: ‘He will be ambitious to think he can win something next year. He will have that in his head.

‘He will play everything down that’s for sure but he will have in his head that he will want to be successful at Manchester United.

‘It’s too big a club not to win trophies. They can’t have the barren years that they’ve had and not win a trophy.’

Paul Lambert suggested that Ten Hag could hit the ground running and win a trophy next year


Liverpool hero Jamie Carragher actually painted a fairly optimistic picture of how Ten Hag could have a positive impact at United.

He told Sky Sports: ‘This idea of four or five years to turn a club round, Manchester United don’t need that.

‘If they get the recruitment right, a couple of years at the most they should be challenging for the biggest honours.’

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher was actually pretty upbeat about United’s hopes

Rio Ferdinand, former United defender, was excited with Ten Hag’s appointment but was also calling for patience.

He said on his Vibe with Five show: ‘What he needs is time, guys. Give this guy time to go out there and get through a good couple of transfer windows.

‘He needs to reshape the squad and create a Ten Hag squad to get United back to winning things or at least challenging for the Premier League and Champions League.

‘We have got to get the foundations in place to be able to mount a challenge. He needs time, it is important he has time.

Ex-United defender Rio Ferdinand asked the fanbase to give Ten Hag time to get things right

‘I am sure we will get the right soundbites from the beginning but we will judge him over a period of time.

‘It is not about right now, we want this to be lasting for the next 10 years. Manchester United was known for having managers who have been here for long periods.

Former United striker Wayne Rooney says Ten Hag should be looking at a title challenge in three years’ time

‘The fanbase need to back him, give him time, we might have to go through pain and a little bit of hurt, whilst he looks at what he has got in the pack.’

His former team-mate Wayne Rooney, now Derby County manager, said: ‘It’s a massive job and it’s good to see they have now put a manager in that looks like he’ll get a bit of time.

‘I’m sure they are going to let him rebuild the squad because that needs to happen.

‘Fans have to be a little bit patient as long as they see progression, players working and playing for the shirt with hopefully a look at trying to challenge for the title in the next three years.

‘That is where United fans have to be realistic and I am sure that’s what the club are hoping for.’

The ex-United captain Bryan Robson, writing for Sportsmail, also pleaded for patience from the supporters.

‘Manchester United fans have been asked many times to show patience and they are really going to need it now,’ he wrote.

‘Erik ten Hag is facing an incredibly tough job but it is an opportunity to reset. United have had far too many managers in recent years and they need to trust this one to get it right.’

United legend Bryan Robson is another to have asked fans to trust Ten Hag and give him time

Another Old Trafford favourite, Denis Irwin, also called for patience but suggested success could be achieved in the medium-term.

He told Sky Sports News: ‘It might take a bit of time. There’s an overhaul due in terms of the first-team squad and we need a bit of patience as well.

‘Best-case scenario I think we’ll be challenging for the league in two or three years’ time.’

Ex-England defender Joleon Lescott pointed out that though United are currently in transition, the gap between them and Premier League title challengers Liverpool and Man City could soon narrow.

He told LiveScore: ‘Manchester United are in a transition period and that sometimes means accepting you aren’t going to be one of the frontrunners for titles.

‘It’s a plan that must stretch beyond a couple of transfer windows, a couple of seasons.

‘If they make steady progress, a time will come when Liverpool and Manchester City both bring in new bosses – and that’s when United can truly go and compete for the title again.’


Old Trafford legend Gary Neville warned United fans it could be anything up to five years before Ten Hag delivers the success they crave.

The former defender told Sky Sports News: ‘Honestly, I wouldn’t be putting too much pressure on Erik ten Hag in the first one or two years to win a trophy at the club.

‘It would be great if he did but that would actually be over-achieving in my opinion.

‘First, it should be getting back into the top four, re-establishing Manchester United in the Champions League, attract the players into the club that play the way he wants to play and then start to get a system of belief.

United legend Gary Neville worries it could be five years before they can challenge again

‘It took Jurgen Klopp five years to win a Premier League title [at Liverpool], as great a job as he has done.

‘I think year three, four or five is when you start to look at him to win trophies.’

Neville’s former United team-mate Andy Cole, talking to, also sounded a pessimistic note about the scale of the rebuilding job.

‘Hopefully he is going to be the right fit and he’s going to bring in the right players to start moving the club forward,’ Cole said.

Ex-United striker Andy Cole is also concerned it’s a long-term rebuilding job at Old Trafford

‘But, if you’re listening to what the interim manager [Ralf Rangnick] said, he believes they are six years behind Liverpool. So, four or five transfer windows are not going to be enough.

‘At the moment, Manchester City and Liverpool are fighting it out and Manchester United need to get to that level. It doesn’t happen overnight.’

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