Sky Sports' Paul Merson says Erik ten Hag is walking into his toughest-ever job; He also likes the direction Arsenal are heading in after closing in on the signing of Gabriel Jesus, but is surprised Chelsea are letting Petr Cech and Marina Granovskaia leave
Tuesday 28 June 2022 12:33, UK
Paul Merson says Erik ten Hag is starting the most challenging job he will ever face with Manchester United in "disarray".
United reported for pre-season on Monday as new manager Ten Hag took his first training session with the club yet to make a summer signing.
The club's failure to qualify for the Champions League and lack of incomings led to reports that Cristiano Ronaldo may want to leave, but United insist he is not for sale and expect him to remain at Old Trafford.
"If Ten Hag managed for the rest of his life, it'll never be harder than what he's taking on now," Merson told Sky Sports News after participating in The Big Golf Race to raise awareness about prostate cancer.
"This is a massive job. It's the biggest club in the world and he is taking over when they're in disarray.
"He needs to bring in as many players as he can because this team is not going to get you in the top four. They need to bring certain players in - (Frenkie) De Jong at Barcelona, he's a good footballer - and then you move on from there. They need at least three or four players just to make a challenge for fourth place."
"Jesus is the big one. I'm a big fan, I like him," said Merson. "Pep Guardiola played him in a lot of big matches - he trusts him. He's a centre forward who wants to score goals.
"People say he misses chances but everybody misses chances. The name of the game is when you miss a chance, you're not scared to get back into the box and miss another one, and he's definitely one of those players.
"I like what Arsenal have done to get that over the line. I think they're in for a good season. There's a project going on and they'll be fighting for fourth place with Man United and Tottenham. If they can get into the Champions League and have a good cup run - the Europa is winnable - with the squad they're building they've got a chance of getting some silverware this season.
"I like what [Edu and Mikel Arteta] are doing. They've got to get in the top four sooner rather than later."
Another London club, however, appears to be heading in a different direction, in the opinion of Merson. Chelsea announced the departure of technical and performance advisor Petr Cech on Monday, who follows chairman Bruce Buck and transfer chief Marina Granovskaia out of the door this summer in the wake of the Todd Boehly-Clearlake takeover.
"I thought the people who came in would keep Petr Cech in his position and Marina Granovskaia, who has done a great job at the club," said Merson.
"You keep them there, shadow them. It's not easy, it's not baseball and basketball where you're doing trades. This is professional football and I'm quite shocked those two have left the way they have."
Merson also believes Liverpool have let a key player leave after Sadio Mane departed to join Bayern Munich.
"He will be a massive miss," said Merson. "I don't worry for Liverpool because they have an unbelievable manager but Mane was a big-game player who scored big goals in matches. He wouldn't get the third, fourth or fifth in a 5-0 win, he'd get the winning goal, the one that took the lead or the equaliser. Those are the goals I look for.
"(Darwin) Nunez has got to hit the ground running like (Luis) Diaz and that rarely happens in the Premier League."
Who will be on the move this summer when the transfer window opens on June 10 and closes at 11pm on September 1?
Keep up-to-date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports' digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.