When Galatasaray beat Erik ten Hag’s team 3-2 at Old Trafford, the bad stats that came out after the game bothered him because he had seen them before.
Manchester United has never lost its first two games in a Champions League season before.
This season, United has lost six of the 10 games they have played. They’ve also given up 18 goals in 10 games in all competitions this season, which is the most goals they’ve given up at this point since 1966-67.
At times like this, statistics can be very scary.
For David Moyes, it was the first time in 21 years that his team lost at home to Everton. It was also the first time in 41 years that his team lost at home to Newcastle.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer didn’t want to have a record of losing at home to Liverpool by a score of 5-0.
United had the fewest wins in the Premier League and scored the fewest goals under Louis van Gaal in 2015-16.
In 2018, Jose Mourinho was in charge when Tottenham beat Manchester United 3-0 at home. It was the worst home loss of his career.
But Ten Hag’s own words are also pretty damaging.
“Our start to the season has not been good enough,” he wrote in his program notes, even before Tuesday’s loss. “There are good reasons, but we won’t try to hide behind them. Now it’s up to us to change things for the better. No one but us can decide what will happen next.”
The problem at United in recent years is what happens next. It doesn’t have to be next week or even next month. When a downward slide like this starts, the manager usually gets fired.
United’s problems come out of nowhere
United are in the middle of the table in the Premier League with nine points from seven games and at the bottom of their Champions League group, which also includes Copenhagen. This is a surprise because no one saw it coming, just like Solskjaer was two years ago.
Like Solskjaer, Ten Hag went into the summer with a season that looked good. He also won a prize, but not like the Norwegian.
The shift business is like other businesses in some ways. United gave themselves a pat on the back when they brought in Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane, and Cristiano Ronaldo two years ago. This season, they did the same thing when they brought in Andre Onana, Mason Mount, and Rasmus Hojlund.
Things didn’t start going wrong for Solskjaer until the end of September. This effort went downhill almost as soon as it began.
Even before the last four days, losses to Tottenham, Arsenal, Brighton, and Bayern Munich were hurtful. One lucky win against Wolves on the first weekend, a stirring comeback against Nottingham Forest at home, and a close win away at Burnley don’t make up for that.
It seems like at United, the more things change, the more they stay the same. People still don’t like the Glazer family, and they show it by shouting against the Americans and being mean on social media. Players are called names. Even the roof of Old Trafford, which is known to leak, is still there.
The big question is whether Ten Hag can go against the grain. Can the Dutchman, who was so successful at Ajax before leaving to become Solskjaer’s final replacement, be the one to find new answers?
He believes so.
“Last season was better than we could have hoped for,” he said. “But we also knew there would be holes in this project.
“We are going through a very hard time, but we will get through it together. Me, the leaders, and the team all work together to fight and stay together. We will fight together.
“We’re not like this. We are sure we can do better.”
Ten Hag is having trouble with two things right now. A lot of injuries and absences have hurt the Dutchman a lot.
Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia, who were both left backs, were both hurt for a long time. Sergio Reguilon, who was supposed to replace him at the last minute, is also injured. This means that Sofyan Amrabat is playing left back when the Moroccan is badly needed in central midfield, where Ten Hag also can’t use the young Kobbie Mainoo because of an injury.
Lisandro Martinez’s broken foot could keep him out for up to three months. Without him, United’s defense is weaker in the middle and they can’t give goalie Andre Onana the passes they had planned.
There is also the situation with Sancho, which doesn’t seem to be getting better, and the choices made by the board about Antony in the short term and Mason Greenwood in the long term.
But the coach also has to answer questions.
Last summer, he was the one who pushed for Antony. United delivered, but spending £82 million on the Brazilian meant that the club had to tighten its budget a year later to stay within Financial Fair Play rules.
David de Gea was let go this summer because Ten Hag wanted a goalie who could play the game.
Onana cost £47,2 million. The international player from Cameroon came from Inter Milan full of confidence. But he keeps making mistakes. His mistake of giving the ball to Dries Mertens close to the United box cost his team Casemiro, who was sent off after getting a second yellow card while trying to save a bad situation.
Even though United avoided the next penalty, the respite was short.
“Andre was in a Champions League semi-final with Ajax, and last year he was in the final with Inter, so he has the skills to be one of the best goalkeepers in the world,” Ten Hag said. “He’s proved that.
“We have already seen his great skills and his personality in games. He will get better.”
“I am to blame.”
Not only Onana has to get back on her feet. As Ten Hag says, United as a whole needs to find ways to save their season before it’s too late.
Even though they were booed off, just like they were after Saturday’s loss to Crystal Palace, it was because of the result and not because they didn’t like the boss.
This feeling won’t last forever. On Saturday, Brentford will play at Old Trafford. They have only won one game all season, and they have only one point from their last three games.
Ten Hag said, “Yes, I can understand,” when asked how the crowd reacted. “Along with my team, I’m responsible for this team, how it does, and how it does, and we’re not getting the results.
“We need to improve. But I have seen a team with a lot of heart and a team that was cheered on the whole time.
“We are really upset. That’s gas.”
On our page about Manchester United, we asked people what they thought of Tuesday’s game. Some of your thoughts are:
Graham: To be honest, the defense wasn’t very good. Rasmus Hojlund, a new player, scored two great goals, but the middle was sometimes taken over. Too many people in the middle who are the same as each other but can’t work together for some reason. All of them are trying to play the same role, which leaves holes for other teams to take advantage of. A few more training lessons on the pitch wouldn’t hurt.
Keesi: I hope Erik ten Hag finds a better way to combine the defense and center to win. Since he couldn’t buy center backs, take Bruno Fernandes and Mason Mount out of the starting lineup and put Scott McTominay at number four. He needs to find the right combos and ways to work with the team to boost morale. Also, move Sofyan Amrabat from left back to the middle of the field.
Joseph said: United has more problems than what we can see on the field. A player (Jadon Sancho) who chose not to apologize to a boss. There is no teamwork; each player has to be great on their own. In modern football, very few teams can win every time by depending on the greatness of individual players. Erik, work on the room where people change.
Roy: We should have known. Same players, same format, same effort, and the same result. This season, United’s best game was last week in the Carabao Cup against Crystal Palace, but did that team get another chance?