ERIK TEN HAG has ten decisions to make and he hasn’t even walked into the foyer of the Theatre of Dreams yet.
But if the Dutchman is to become Erik the Red then he better have made up his mind on what he must do first, by the time he does.
The Ajax boss has yet to be confirmed as the new Manchester United manager although every indication from within Old Trafford suggests it is now only a matter of when and not if he gets the nod over Mauricio Pochettino.
Yet if he is as bright as the hype that surrounds him he will already have identified that he will be starting from ground zero and building his way up.
The squad currently grinding its way to nowhere except maybe the third tier of continental football also known as the Europa Conference must be pulled apart.
And at least ten players must be shown the door while he already knows he is going to lose another three in Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani and Jesse Lingard.
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They will be heading out on free transfers, the other ten need to be dumped anyway.
Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Fred, Diago Dalot and last but far from least Cristiano Ronaldo have to go.
There would also be an argument for allowing Dean Henderson to go given he has made it clear that he has no intention of being David De Gea’s understudy again next season.
Donny van de Beek would be another name in his out tray but it was ten Hag who developed him and he might show mercy to his failed fellow countryman.
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Another reserve goalkeeper in Lee Grant is also likely to be told to move on but he is only a peripheral figure.
The ten who will be under threat once ten Hag gets in the hot seat are mostly too old, not good enough or both.
Ronaldo only really fits one of those categories because no one could ever dispute his standing as one of the great scoring superstars of his generation.
But CR is 37 and his influence, even if he has become the 18 – goal top scorer of a miserable campaign that has numbed so many supporters, has become a dubious one.
Younger players are intimidated by him, older ones are not happy to do most of the leg work for him.
The word, also, is that without Champions League football he will be out of there and go and earn his £495,000 a week elsewhere.
DECISION TIME FOR TEN HAG
So really ten Hag only has nine decisions to make.
He won’t get rid of all ten at once and even those who do have bidders – not that there will be many of those – will baulk at kissing goodbye to their inflated salaries.
Yet the process has to begin. The sooner the better, and especially for ten Hag himself.
For the man who has played a major part in persuading the United hierarchy to go for him has himself been brought down by so many of those players.
When Ralf Rangnick said after the 1 – 1 draw with Leicester City that he had a lot of technical players he really meant he had a lot of players who didn’t have it in them to put their bodies on the line.
Bruno Fernandes and Fred were highlighted as the interim manager declared too many players’ DNA did not contain the right stuff.
But there were plenty more he could have mentioned.
The German might also have pointed to other inadequacies: such as struggling to pass the ball further than a yard to a team-mate.
Or it might be marking someone, running off the ball and putting the hard yards in or, heaven forbid, getting a shot on target.
The Champions League quarter final clashes, since that lucky point against the Foxes, should have been a source of embarrassment for so much of the United team.
The intensity, the precision, the brilliance and above all the bravery of those who took part in the clashes between Manchester City, Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Benfica, Chelsea and Real Madrid made for wonderful, compulsive viewing.
Seldom this season have those characteristics been seen consistently within a United team although they are really mainly a bunch of show-boaters.
Rangnick has had enough of them and he’s only been there for just over four months and his unspoken contempt for some was blindingly obvious.
He will have spoken to ten Hag and marked his card.
Not that the Dutchman doesn't have the information and the knowledge he will have picked up himself, to walk into old Trafford wielding the axe.
Unless he gets rid of the dead wood there will be no room to manoeuver within a job that could take him at least three years to complete.
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And that will simply be to make Manchester United competitive again.
Things are so bad, he will find that it could even be a while longer than that before his side can actually win a Prem title or think of becoming champions of Europe again.
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