We are witnessing the downfall of Manchester United. After a horrendous start against Brighton in week one of the new English Premier League season where they lost 2-1, United followed that up by being mauled 4-0 by Brentford. The Red Devils had been breached 4 times in the opening 35 minutes of that match. These two shocking results just shows us the poor state the club is in.
New coach Erik Ten Hag had a decent pre-season with his new team. He was getting the best out of the likes of Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial in their friendlies. But Martial got injured before the season started and the team has missed his cutting edge in their first two matches.
Can we blame Ten Hag for these two losses? He was for sure to blame for the Brentford game. He got it all wrong with his formation. Bees boss Thomas Frank stated he had targeted United’s new centre back Lisandro Martinez, who arrived at Old Trafford for a whopping 55 million pounds. Martinez who is only 5 foot 9 inches started both games but against Brentford he was shambolic. We cannot blame him entirely as it was only his second game for his new club. But he just could not cope with the physical presence of striker Ivan Toney who got the better of him in every situation. For the third goal, Martinez was completely out muscled by Ben Mee.
Another player who struggled heavily against his ex-club Brentford was Christian Eriksen. He arrived at United on a free transfer and I believe this was another mistake by Ten Hag as he does not know where to play him. Against Brighton he was given the role of the false 9 which is clearly not suitable for him. The manager has to strategize the formation in such a way that he plays both Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes in attacking roles rather than one playing more defensively. Or, he will have to drop one of them. As much as it is Ten Hag’s fault for trying players in different positions, it also the responsibility of the players to perform no matter where they are on the pitch.
Goalkeeper David de Gea was at fault for two goals. He fumbled the first goal through Brenford’s Josh DaSilva and with that the team’s morale took hit. It was an unforgivable mistake on his part. He also goofed up in the second goal after passing the ball to Eriksen who was dispossessed which lead to their second goal.
The club is facing many dilemmas at the moment. It’s fair to say that the owners, the Glazers, have not taken proper action and the club is going in the same direction it was going last season - downwards. They have not signed good enough players and have retained those who failed to shine.
And then there is the Cristiano Ronaldo situation. He was so upset after the defeat against Brentford that he could not even face the fans after the match and instead of thanking them he trudged off down the tunnel. It is a well-known fact that he wants to leave, but the board and the manager want him to stay. If the team keeps on having such results, I don’t think that a player of his caliber would want to be associated with a club struggling so badly even though we all know he loves United.
Ten Hag has not found his right team yet and he has said that United need three to four more signings. They continue to be linked to Barcelona’s Frenkie De Jong but the rumours suggest he doesn’t want to join them. The board are still trying to sign him but the fact that he hasn’t joined United from the cash strapped Spanish giants speaks volumes.
One player who has not had a chance at all since he joined the club in 2020 is Donny van de Beek. Ole Gunnar Solskjær didn’t give him a fair chance as he always stuck with the likes of Scott McTominay and Fred. Then Ralf Rangnick came in who appreciated Donny but allowed him to be sent out on loan in January for more game time to Everton, but unfortunately injuries did not allow that. But Ten Hag knows him well from his time at Ajax and I strongly believe he needs to be given a chance in the starting 11. He made a very good impact after coming on against Brighton and United could see the best of him if he is given a run of games.
There are many more problems at United and with Liverpool up next in the league things could get a lot worse before they get any better...