Erik ten Hag, the new manager of Manchester United, did not hesitate to upset the apple cart when he arrived from Ajax in the summer. His treatment of Cristiano Ronaldo was the most visible manifestation of the Dutchman’s harshness, as he refused to step down to the five-time Ballon d’Or winner amid his complaints over a diminished role, but instead kicked many players out of the dressing room.
As new recruits such as Casemiro, Christian Eriksen, and Lisandro Martinez joined Ten Hag in Manchester, the first-team locker room at United’s Carrington training facility complex became cramped. According to the Sun, only 24 players could be accommodated, thus Ten Hag began to cut some marginal players from the group.
Phil Jones, Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe, Shola Shoretire, and Teden Mengi were all demoted to the reserve squad, with many expected to depart the club. Yet, three players stayed at Old Trafford in the form of Jones, Williams, and Mengi, with only Williams making a first-team appearance this season – a four-minute Carabao Cup cameo against Burnley in December.
Tuanzebe and Shoretire, on the other hand, chose not to play for United’s under-21 team in order to leave the club. Tuanzebe remained at Old Trafford for the first half of the season in an attempt to win over Ten Hag, but he joined Stoke on loan for the remainder of the season at the conclusion of the January window.
After recovering from a back injury, the former England under-21 center-back has begun to establish himself in the Potters’ defense, and his performances have not gone ignored at the international level. According to the African journal Leopard Football Leader, both he and United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka have been asked about representing DR Congo.
Good negotiations were apparently undertaken because neither player has played for England at the senior level, and Tuanzebe qualifies because he was born in Bunia, although Wan-Bissaka is of Congolese heritage.
Tuanzebe will be aiming for a good season at Stoke, while Soretire made a similar decision to him, electing to temporarily depart United in quest of regular game time, joining Bolton in League One as a January loan for the duration of the season.
The 19-year-old winger has been a regular for Ian Evatt’s side as they attempt to reclaim their place in the Championship.
He has yet to score but has been a good spark, but he will regret the cup-tied restrictions as he will be unable to aid his side on the pitch at Wembley on Sunday in the EFL Trophy final against Plymouth, having previously played for United under-21s against Bolton.