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Erik ten Hag must get recruitment right to bring United back to top – John O’Shea

Assistant coach John O'Shea during a Republic of Ireland U-21's press conference at Abbotstown. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Seán O’Connor

JOHN O’SHEA says Erik ten Hag will have to get his recruitment right if Manchester United are to make the most of their latest fresh start and bring an end to their dismal run.

The Ireland U-21 assistant coach, who made 393 appearances from 1999 to 2011 at Old Trafford, hopes the former Ajax boss can attract the correct talent to challenge for Premier League titles again.

United have just endured their worst season in the Premier League era, taking 58 points from 38 games, as O’Shea reflected on the confirmed Old Trafford departures of Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard.

“Everyone knows it’s going to be a huge challenge,” O’Shea said of Ten Hag. “You need results too. It’s going to be a case of what players he can get in. That will ultimately be the key.

“He looks like he has got that hunger and appetite to really compete at the top from his first press conference, which I thought was quite impressive.”

Pogba’s departure will be welcomed by many supporters, after the 29-year-old endured a difficult second spell at the club. The World Cup winner has struggled to make an impact due to positional issues and injury struggles.

“I played with Paul a long time ago and obviously he was super talented back then,” O’Shea continued.

“I am sure he is hoping that he finds that consistent level of performance that he wasn’t able to find at different stages of the season.

“Unfortunately, he had a few injuries and couldn’t get back to that level. I think it’s gotten to the point where a fresh start for everyone is probably the best scenario.”

Closer to home, O’Shea – who won 118 caps for Ireland – says he is optimistic about the national team’s defensive options at senior level, with the likes of Dara O’Shea, Andrew Omobamidele and Nathan Collins set to feature for years to come.

“They’re all doing really well,” O’Shea added. “Mark McGuinness is playing in the Championship now. Eiran Cashin has come through and is playing in the Championship. There is a healthy competition.”

Ireland’s U-21s go into their final three qualifiers knowing that two wins would all but secure a play-off spot, with Jim Crawford’s side hosting Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro in a double-header at Tallaght Stadium before their final group game away in Italy.

Ireland have never qualified for an U-21 European Championship, and now have the chance to make history.

“We have to make sure we do get over the line,” O’Shea stressed. “The experience the boys would get from a tournament would benefit the senior team and the whole country further down the road when we are qualifying for competitions again.”

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