If frustration were the source of fuel then Manchester United could take a rocket to the moon and back again. “Of course we are disappointed,” Eric ten Hag said after the second consecutive defeat at Old Trafford against Galatasaray. We know we have to do better.
Ten Hag has produced the same ball on six occasions already this season and could open his tonsils in lament for a seventh after the trip to Brentford. Excluding a Carabao Cup victory over second-tier Crystal Palace, Ten Hag’s team would have lost nine times. They were struggling against Wolves in the opening match of the season, were similarly up against ten men from Nottingham Forest and needed a world from Bruno Fernandes to subdue Burnley.
Ten Hag had apologized after losing their opening two Premier League games a year ago. That was not his side. This is one. It was their goalkeeper, Andre Onana, who made a pass to an opposing forward that led to the penalty that led to Casemiro’s red card on Tuesday. Their goalkeeper took a knee to net Mauro Icardi’s winner, and their goalkeeper who conceded more goals in the second half than David De Gea.
And sex isn’t their biggest concern. The biggest problem is a porous midfield, and Ten Hag looks no closer to finding a solution than a year ago despite the additions of Casemiro, Christian Eriksen, Mason Mount and Sofian Amrabat, one loan signing who joined another loanee. , has followed Marcel. Sabitzer.
The real problem for Ten Hag is the emerging view that their difficulties are becoming less about personnel and more about coaching failure. There are still 10 games left in his second season and United appear to be slipping. Whatever his methods, they are not working.
If it wasn’t bad enough that United have won just four matches, three of which have come on the odd goal, they are conceptually unable to hold on to a draw.
Collapse appears inevitable, and goals are accepted into groups. Forest scored two goals in two minutes, Arsenal two in five, Bayern two in four, Galatasaray two in ten. This is as much on the players as it is on the coaches.
Following the international break at the end of October, United hosted Manchester City and Newcastle in the space of three days in the Premier League and Carabao Cup.
If Ten Hague are to avoid negative results against City and Newcastle, there will be little margin for error in the first three games against Brentford, Sheffield United and FC Copenhagen.
He has been further beset by his intransigence over the exiled Jadon Sancho and his over-reliance on the increasingly erratic Fernandes.
It’s fine to take a principled stance against Sancho’s alleged ill-discipline when you’re winning, but less convincing when you’re losing with a team depleted by injury. And after making Fernandes your captain, it is almost impossible to keep him on the bench.
No player in top-flight football has played more minutes than Fernandes, 6,666 minutes, in the calendar year to September 2022. This is the devil’s number and then something. Fernandes revealed his superpower with what could have been goal of the season at Burnley, yet against Galatasaray he was the aggressive, inconsistent mess with which United fans have become extremely familiar, which contributed heavily to the laxity in midfield. has contributed.
When the captain’s head turns, it creates a domino effect in the team. Fernandes has been flogged by Ten Hag in the same manner as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Coupled with the shocking decline of Marcus Rashford and Ten Hag, they have lost key levers of power.
A brave, or desperate, Ten Hag could benefit from Mount being in the No. 10 role against Brentford in favor of Mount’s more reliable and Alejandro Garnacho’s dynamic running down the left. He could also consider playing Amrabat as a midfielder contracted from Fiorentina and find someone else to shift to left-back.
The return to the starting line-up would be another lift for Garnacho in the week he welcomed his first child, Enzo, into the world. However, at just 19, Garnacho is young for the responsibilities of fatherhood and saving United, with Ten Hag needing fertility where he can get it.
In this respect he is at least coming into Rasmus Hjölund’s flower to celebrate. The Dane’s two goals against Galatasaray, not to mention a brilliant finish ruled out by VAR, are powerful reasons for optimism. Goals are ultimately the path to an easier life. If Hjolund develops into the type of Scandinavian-goal-guarantee available to City, United won’t need to be perfect.
To English ears at least, there is little to distinguish between Hjolund and Holland. Had Hjolund also passed the eye test, Ten Hag’s post-match singalong might have looked very different.