Everton ace James Garner explains why he left Manchester United and gives Erik ten Hag verdict

Following a stellar loan spell at Nottingham Forest during the 2021/22 campaign, helping the Midlands outfit clinch promotion from the Championship, several United supporters were determined to see him given an opportunity at Old Trafford. Erik ten Hag had developed a reputation for overseeing the development of young players at Ajax and many thought Garner would benefit from that.

However, the Birkenhead-born midfielder suffered an injury on his first day of pre-season, resulting in him having a spell on the sidelines. It meant Ten Hag did not get the chance to get a close inspection of the 22-year-old.

As a result, many presumed that Garner would head out on loan again, offering him the best possible chance to secure regular first-team football. United, however, made the decision to sell him on the final day of the summer transfer window, sanctioning a move to Everton.

He joined the Toffees on a four-year deal, bringing what many thought was a premature ending to his United career. On reflection, it was a decision that Garner was happy to make.

“When I came back to United, I felt like I had a good enough season to have a shot,” Garner told BBC Sport. “But unfortunately I got injured on the first day and it set me back two or three weeks, so the manager did not get to see me in training and games.

“It was a decision where – after having two seasons in men&aposs football – I wanted to be part of a team and squad, ideally starting too. I knew I wasn&apost going to get that at United so I made the decision to move here.

“I could have gone on loan again and come back but I felt I would have been in the exact same position I was then. I didn&apost want to be stuck in the mud, I needed to make a decision to leave one of the best clubs in the world, which was hard, but it is one I am happy I made.”

Garner, who has made 22 appearances for Everton since joining them just over a year ago, was signed by Frank Lampard but is now working under Sean Dyche, who is a strict and no-nonsense operator. Ten Hag, in Garner&aposs opinion, is a similar character.

He continued: “Ten Hag is a very approachable guy but is very strict. He takes no-one bending the rules. He will say it how it is and will punish people if they have done the wrong things.

“My talk with him was easy. I asked him plain and simple whether I was going to be in the squad or if he saw me playing a part.