A third-place finish and a trophy after six barren seasons have bought the Reds boss time with the current campaign slipping from his grasp. United have regressed this term and are now perhaps behind the curve.
United have won just one of their four Champions League games so far and will probably have to win both of their remaining fixtures to get out of the group. The club are only five points off the top four but four wins in their last five Premier League games do not tell the full story.
All victories have come by one-goal margins against Brentford, Sheffield United, Fulham and Luton Town. Points-sanctioned Everton away, Newcastle away and Chelsea at home await following the international break in games that will really show the mettle of the side.
Ten Hag has had to weather a continual rolling list of injuries this season while some have spent time away from the first team for other reasons. As many as 20 first-team stars have been unavailable at some point since the start of pre-season.
As a result, the foundations of the team have been rocked. Andre Onana has come in as the new No.1 and had to deal with six different centre-back partnerships in his first 10 matches thanks to setbacks.
Casemiro has been far from his best and will not play again until 2024 due to a hamstring injury. Rasmus Hojlund has started well but is yet to score in nine Premier League games and is now nursing a strain too.
Back in August, Sir Alex Ferguson hailed Ten Hag for his signings, saying that he has been able to create a core backbone to his team. Thats what theyve really lacked a centre-forward for the last few years, he began.
The rest of the team, the composition is very good. Hes got great experience in the defence, with [Raphael] Varane and [Lisandro] Martinez, and experience in midfield, with [Christian] Eriksen and Casemiro, so theres a foundation there.
The foundations are always completed by your goalkeeper and your centre-forward. The new goalkeeper is very athletic and the new centre-forward, hopefully hes fit quickly.
These experienced players mentioned by Sir Alex have either been injured or out of form.