It is understandable for Manchester United fans to be feeling optimistic ahead of the new 2022/23 football season. Erik ten Hag is the fifth permanent manager since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement to be tasked with bringing the glory days back to Old Trafford and the former Ajax boss already has the Red Devils’ fans salivating and raring for the new season to get underway.
A lot was made of Ten Hag’s arrival and his passion to play beautiful, attacking football, and he couldn’t have asked for a better start after beating Man United’s old foes Liverpool 4-0 at the Rajamangala Stadium in Thailand — with United fans thoroughly enjoying the demanding win over their Merseyside rivals despite the fact it was merely a pre-season friendly.
The comfortable victories have just kept coming though, with a 4-1 win over Melbourne Victory and a 3-1 triumph when faced with another familiar opposition in the form of Patrick Viera’s Crystal Palace. But it is not the scorelines that have United fans excited, it’s the Dutchman’s philosophy, vision, goals and no crap attitude that has their pulses racing and their imaginations soaring.
However, it is perhaps still too soon for the Red Devils fans to get ahead of themselves at this stage. There has been plenty of moments like this in the red half of Manchester since Ferguson said his emotional goodbyes on the Old Trafford pitch at the end of the 2012/13 season and they have proven to be nothing more than false dawns — like Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s fine start and the return of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Of course, not even the most ambitious of United fans will be expecting them to challenge for the Premier League this season — as fairly reflected in the outright odds from Betdaq — nor will Rio Ferdinand be foolish enough to rant and rave about United being back on live television coverage, so why not let them feel optimistic about their chances of a top four finish?
After all, securing Champions League football does appear to be a very achievable feat — even if the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have arguably had a better window than them at this stage. Ten Hag has already admitted that more new faces need to be added to the dressing room after the arrival of Christian Eriksen, Tyrell Malacia and Lisandro Martínez, so the squad is only going to get better as well.
A fanbase full of hope and willing to get behind the players can also reflect well on a side that has lacked so much confidence in the last few years. But there is a worry that the expectations United supporters have built up from all the positives this season can turn sour very quickly should they not get the right results when the Premier League gets back underway in a couple of weeks — and the Old Trafford stands could very quickly turn against them again.
If there’s one thing United fans should have taken away from the last decade or so, it’s not to get ahead of themselves too soon. We saw it happen last season when Ronaldo returned and we might just be watching them build themselves up for an almighty downfall once again this campaign. Whether or not that turns out to be the case, we will just have to wait and see.