• Friday, December 01, 2023
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Under pressure Ten Hag must accept blame for Man United shambolic performances

Manchester United dominate EPL September awards

Three goals conceded, a red card, another howler from the goalkeeper and Galatasaray fans invading each corner of Old Trafford. Manchester United can often be a circus, and everything went wrong in the Champions League on Tuesday.

United went ahead twice against Galatasaray thanks to goals from Rasmus Hojlund, only to concede shortly after scoring on each occasion.

The night went from bad to worse, and Casemiro was sent off before Mauro Icardi made it 3-2.

The only two players to emerge from credit were Hojlund and Mason Mount, but the bottom line is Galatasaray won on English soil for the first time despite falling behind twice at the biggest club stadium in the country.

The result was a disaster. It condemned the club to a sixth defeat in just 10 games for the first time since 1986-87 and it also represented the first time United have lost their first two Champions League group stage games.

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For perspective, Jose Mourinho lost his job at Old Trafford in December 2018 after suffering eight defeats in 24 matches and it would be a shock for this current side to only suffer another two losses in their next 14 fixtures.

Ten Hag was asked whether he was concerned about his position at his post-Galatasaray press conference and urged his players to stick together and fight for each other; using similar language to his predecessors.

He said: “Last season: brilliant, terrific, more than we could expect, but also when we went into this project, we knew there would be common gaps, and at this moment, we are in a challenging period, as everyone can see.

“But we come out together, we are fighting together, we are sticking together, behind each other, it’s me, the directors, the team, all together, we will fight and this is not us. We know we have to do better and in togetherness, we will come out.”

In truth, Ten Hag did not sound like a manager on the brink of the sack and supporters do not want to see him leave. His position is not actively under threat but there’s no denying that he’s not blameless for this bleak start to the campaign.

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Ten Hag has spent over £400million (including add-ons) during his reign and yet just a few months into his second season at the club, United have conceded 18 goals, which is their most at the start of a campaign since 1966-67.

There are obvious caveats to that dismal record, like the squad being pillaged by injuries, players being unavailable due to off-pitch issues and the team’s top goalscorer misfiring. Still, the extent of the regression is alarming.

United should have managed to beat Galatasaray, a team of Premier League rejects, and the defeat was made worse by going ahead and still losing, which has been a reoccurring problem in the early stages of this season. Hojlund and Christian Eriksen highlighted the team’s tendency to concede quickly after scoring in their media duties. United have conceded three times within 10 minutes of finding the net this season.

You’re told as a kid that you’re most vulnerable after scoring, and the team’s defending has been amateurish. The players are struggling to control games and retain possession at crucial times, namely after scoring.