sport news Erik ten Hag has only just started at Manchester United but the dark clouds are ... trends now
Ten Hag's official first day was supposed to herald the start of a new, exciting era at Old Trafford after a dismal campaign where United threatened to reach their nadir with every passing week. And often succeeded.
There has been extensive talk about rebuilds, squad overhauls and even of revolution. Instead, that familiar feeling of inertia has enveloped United and its fanbase as the new manager gets to work.
The Dutchman arrived at the club's Carrington training ground in the back of an SUV at 8am on Monday morning and was later greeted by the squad - minus the players involved in the Nations League until earlier this month and a few high-profile departures - which failed to hit the minimum standard of Champions League qualification and ended with United's lowest ever Premier League points tally.
It is for this reason the excitement which greeted the unveiling of Ten Hag, who started in the job before his contract began, has been replaced by growing frustration and discontent - not directed at the new boss, but at those above him.
Yet, as priority transfer target Frenkie de Jong edges ever closer to penning a move to Manchester, a thin wisp of light has managed to seep through the dark clouds at Old Trafford and provided hope.
Although he will cost the club upwards of £70million, the Dutchman offers the Glazers a chance to placate the ill-feeling at the club.
However, while the United chiefs wrestle to finalise the deal with Barcelona, the once-promising pursuits of Jurrien Timber, Christian Eriksen and Antony have fallen by the wayside.
Erik ten Hag arrived at Carrington for the start of pre-season training on Monday morning
David de Gea was one of the star Manchester United players who arrived on Monday
Fringe players such as Phil Jones were also pictured arriving back at the training ground
Zero transfers made
United have not made a single signing in the transfer window so far.
Ten Hag will have wanted the majority of business done before his new side embark on an energy-sapping, commercially-motivated pre-season tour to Australia - sound familiar? - and the Far East in a fortnight.
Barring a sudden shift in gear, one which even the sports cars driven by United's highly-paid flops will be unable to achieve, that will not be the case.
As always, United will be scrambling around at the last minute while their top-four rivals and the runaway pair of Manchester City and Liverpool strengthen by getting business done early - via the likes of Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez.
Ten Hag will, more than likely, be forced to bed in new recruits on the gruelling Premier League stage, which begins earlier than usual on August 7 against Brighton, instead of in pre-season friendlies.
United, remember, host Liverpool in their third game of the new Premier League campaign.
The club have undergone sweeping changes behind the scenes ahead of the start of the season but the same issues are seemingly holding them back in the transfer market.
The start of pre-season is here but already the dark clouds are gathering over Old Trafford
Liverpool have completed their transfer business early, signing Benfica striker Darwin Nunez
Rivals Manchester City, meanwhile, have already wrapped up the signing of Erling Haaland
All-in on De Jong pursuit
For a start, they appear to be only capable of negotiating deals for one player at a time. That player at the moment Frenkie de Jong, Ten Hag's prime target in this summer's window.
Pursuing De Jong from Barcelona seems to be an entirely avoidable saga: the Spanish giants want to sell and United want the Dutch star - but apparently not enough to stump up the asking price.
This is a tactic that has yielded mixed results for Old Trafford chiefs in the past, and the supposed new regime will not want to make the same mistakes as those who have spectacularly failed before them.
That's a fact even chief executive Richard Arnold cannot deny.
The initial £55m deal - which could rise to £70m - edged towards a finish on Tuesday, but the length it's taken to settle does not bode well for future pursuits.
United's highly publicised pursuit of Barcelona star Frenkie de Jong is still yet to be finalised