Manchester United are a mess — and it could be about to get even worse
Danny Schwarz is the manager of Homburg now and Tim Walter is the manager of Hamburg. Sebastian Hoeness has followed in Walter’s footsteps for a second time by taking charge of VfB Stuttgart. Coaching Bayern Munich II tends to be a stepping stone to a senior job. But not normally one of this magnitude.
When Erik ten Hag goes to the Allianz Arena in the Champions League on Wednesday, it should be a triumphant return. He was nicknamed “mini Pep” in his time at Bayern but was a lower-profile figure in a lower-profile job. Now he is manager of one of the few clubs in world football who might be bigger even than Bayern. It is a personal triumph for a manager who described his decision to quit a first-team job at Go Ahead Eagles, who he had led to promotion, to go to Bayern’s youthful reserve team as an “unlogical move”. The danger, however, is that it becomes an unenjoyable reunion.
For Manchester United, thoughts of Bayern are indelibly associated with memories of 1999, with the goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that rendered them treble winners and champions of England and took their unbeaten streak to 33 games. Now they head to Bavaria with three losses in four, with the setbacks still outnumbered by the problems, with issues in every department of the side. They have lacked form, changed formation, fielded the untried, the understudies, the out of position and the out of sorts. They have called upon Jonny Evans, who first played for them in 2007, and conceded to Danny Welbeck, who first scored for them in 2008. Under Ten Hag last season, they seemed to benefit from clarity of thought and unity of purpose. Yet they seemed to have a manager who could turn United back from a soap opera to a football club.