Paul Ince praises Erik ten Hag’s work ahead of Reading’s trip to Old Trafford

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Erik ten Hag has helped Manchester United fans see a brighter future since arriving at Old Trafford, according to Paul Ince.

The Reading manager will take his team to face a rejuvenated United in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday at a ground where he won two Premier League titles as a player during a six-year spell under Alex Ferguson.

The 55-year-old was part of the club’s first title-winning side in 26 years when they were crowned champions in 1992-93 and won a league and cup double the following season.

It has been nearly six years since United won a major trophy, the 2017 Europa League under Jose Mourinho, with the wait to win the Premier League stretching back to 2013.

But Ince believes that Ten Hag has started the process of healing the problems the club has faced on and off the pitch since Ferguson stood down a decade ago.

“It’s been frustrating, especially for Man United fans,” said Ince. “But when you think about (Ferguson’s successor) David Moyes going in there, I never felt that he had enough money to do what he wanted to do. I felt it was cut pretty short be fair, he never really had a chance. 

“Then when you bring in world-class managers like (Louis) Van Gaal and Mourinho, you expect to at least close the gap on the likes of Liverpool and Man City.

“There were things that were coming out in the press, (about) Mourinho and Paul Pogba, and then (Cristiano) Ronaldo. It wasn’t an alright place. There was a lot of fragmentation in the squad.

“But now, looking at what Ten Hag has done in such a short space of time, it’s great, it really is.

“I’m not saying they’re there yet. We saw at Old Trafford against Man City that City are still probably a little bit ahead of them. But at least fans can see that there’s a future going forward.”

United are on a run of 10 wins in 12 games in all competitions, with Wednesday’s 3-0 success at Nottingham Forest in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final meaning they already have one foot in a Wembley final ahead of facing Reading.

A five-game Premier League winning streak either side of the World Cup has seen them climb to fourth in the table, and had even helped haul them into title contention until their momentum was checked by a last-gasp defeat to leaders Arsenal on Sunday.

Despite the setback at the Emirates, Ince believes a corner has been turned under Ten Hag.

“It looks to me that he’s raised the standards of the club,” said Ince.

“He’s doing it his way, which is so important. It helps when you’re winning games, and when you’ve got a lot of money to spend.

“He’s brought in the right players. We’ve talked for so many years about Man United’s recruitment. I feel likes he’s getting there. They’re starting to gel.

“When you go back to Sir Alex and the years he was at Man United, it’s so important to have that stability. You can’t keep chopping and changing managers. They’ve done that too often in the last four or fives years. Hopefully he’s here for a long time.”

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