Rio Ferdinand reveals ‘only real criticism’ of Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag | Football

Manchester United do not have a clear playing style under Erik ten Hag, according to Rio Ferdinand (Picture: Getty)

Rio Ferdinand says his ‘only real criticism’ of Erik ten Hag is that Manchester United have been unable to land on a distinguishable playing style since the manager’s arrival two years ago.

United find themselves languishing down in eighth place in the Premier League table after slumping to a second straight defeat in the top flight at home to leaders Arsenal.

Ten Hag’s future remains in serious doubt and a number of high-profile names have been mooted as possible replacements for the hot seat at Old Trafford, with the likes of Gareth Southgate, Roberto De Zerbi, Ruben Amorim and Zinedine Zidane all linked.

However, Ten Hag is adamant he remains the right man for the job and the Dutchman will be desperate to finish the season on a high in the side’s FA Cup final clash with holders Manchester City later this month.

The Red Devils’ squad has been decimated by injuries in recent weeks, with 11 first-team players missing against the Gunners at Old Trafford, where Casemiro continued his run in the side as a makeshift centre-back.

In the aftermath of United’s 1-0 loss, Ten Hag argued that United were not in a position to win on a consistent basis due to their injury woes – and Ferdinand has some sympathy for the 54-year-old.

‘He’s right about one thing: they’ve got a lot of injuries. A huge amount of injuries. Centre-back partnerships, I think they’ve had the most changes that I can remember,’ Ferdinand said on the The Chris Moyles Show on Radio X.

Erik ten Hag looks on during Manchester United's clash with Arsenal

United sit eighth in the Premier League after falling to defeat at home to Arsenal (Picture: Getty)

‘But the point you made about making it hard for ourselves… Arsenal have taken six points off us this season and that shows how far we’ve fallen.

‘If we just like, “Oh, we’re just trying to make it difficult for the teams that are fighting for the league”, and we’re just an also-ran from the sidelines, just cheerleaders, that’s not where United expect to be or have been for years.

‘But I’m of the mind that it does happen in cycles, there are cycles in this game, and you’ve just got to accept sometimes that we are in our cycle of mediocrity or even below at this moment in time.

Havertz and Trossard combined to steer Arsenal to victory at Old Trafford (Picture: Getty)

‘But it’s about how you then change it. It’s taken 30 years for Liverpool to win a Premier League or an elite title. Hopefully we don’t take that long but you’ve got to look at the examples around.

‘Manchester City have come out the wilderness, Liverpool have come out of their problem, Arsenal are seemingly coming out of their problem now.

‘We’ve got to learn from those and take the good parts and elements of those clubs and try and get ourselves back on track.’

Ferdinand has sympathy for the amount of injuries Ten Hag is having to deal with at United (Picture: Getty)

Ferdinand is unsure whether Ten Hag is the ideal candidate to take United forward and feels the manager is still yet to adopt a clear playing style, two years after taking over the reins from Ralf Rangnick.

‘As a manager, is he the right man? I don’t know. But in any industry, if you lose your best components and you’ve got to go to war without your best components, you are going to find it very difficult,’ the legendary ex-United and England defender added.

‘My only real criticism of him really, I would say, is that, regardless of injuries, you normally see a style of football that you can identify with that manager and his team.

‘And you think he’s coaching all these players every day. Just because the quality might drop, your style of football will still be there or thereabouts to be able to see and recognise.

‘I just feel that we’ve got no style of play where I’m looking at it and going, “Okay, when the players come back I can see them all jumping back into that style of football and we will be a problem for teams”.’

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