Manchester United have every chance of securing their key objectives this season if Erik ten Hag can continue to rely on a trio Gary Neville sees as key to their success.
The Red Devils manager is just 21 games into his reign and there are green shoots of recovery. For a squad that laboured home into sixth place last season it was clear that major surgery was required. Indeed, Ten Hag was allowed to spend well over £200m over the summer.
And with several big names such as Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Jesse Lingard all departing, Ten Hag made a total of six new signings.
Now with the January window due to open in just 28 days time, planning for the next phase of their rebuilding programme can resume.
Indeed, the United boss will hope to make further signings in order to boost his side’s prospects. His primary objective will likely be a new striker, with Cristiano Ronaldo having departed under a cloud. The veteran Portuguese star left after strongly condemning the club in an interview.
And while that sort of behaviour was never going to be tolerated, his departure leaves a hole to fill. To that end, United are strongly pushing to sign Cody Gakpo, though Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk is doing his best to derail the move.
In addition, the United boss would like a new right-back, with several names under consideration. He needs a player to add cover and competition to Diogo Dalot and with TEAMtalk revealing the two clubs battling to sign Aaron Wan Bissaka.
There is also the goalkeeping department to think about too. David De Gea’s deal expires in June and United must decide whether to let him depart or tie him down to an extension.
Gary Neville hails Man Utd trio key for Ten Hag
If United have a good January window, it will increase hopes for a successful second half to the season. They will hope to go deep into the Europa League, while a top-four finish is seen as a must. As it stands, United are fifth and are three points behind Tottenham with a game in hand.
And much of the emphasis at United has been on improving the style of football. Ten Hag was able to mix stylish play with trophies during his time at Ajax.
And Neville believes, iff they are to achieve those goals, there are three stars key to United’s prospects. Furthermore, he believes Ten Hag is able to draw on his past to help reach those targets.
“I do think Ten Hag’s football is very different from [Louis] van Gaal’s,” Neville said when asked to compare the two on beIN SPORTS. “It is quicker, they play more fast-paced, they have tempo on the ball when they pass.
“I think some of the movements are really good. There are some games where he has to dumb it down because he realises he’s playing against better teams and he comes back.”
Ten Hag finding the right balance
Pinpointing the key area of the side and the trio he can pin his hopes on, Neville added: “But what he’s done in midfield with Casemiro, Bruno and Eriksen, I think it’s got Manchester United playing quickly back through midfield players and looking forward.
“Casemiro and Eriksen pass forward all the time through the lines. Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] was playing counter-attack quick a lot, playing deep and going on the counter-attack, like [Jose] Mourinho.
“Van Gaal was possession, but sometimes without real purpose, it felt like they were playing sideways. Ten Hag’s style looks like it’s got a balance of both, at the moment. But there’s a long way to go.”
United return to action on December 21 when they tackle Burnley in the Carabao Cup.