Manchester United suffered a shambolic 0-7 defeat at the hands of arch-rivals Liverpool at Anfield last Sunday. While they probably have already kissed any hope for the title goodbye, the race for the top-four spot is still on and a rejuvenated Liverpool is not good news for the Red Devils in this regard.
While the huge defeat on Sunday was probably a one-off, lessons have to be learnt from that and United cannot afford a repeat of that performance in any of their upcoming matches. Erik ten Hag’s men are comfortably placed in the third position, four and seven points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, respectively, with 13 matches to go.
The Carabao Cup winners, however, will have to show consistency in their approach and performance from here on and in this article, we will take a look at three problems they are facing at the moment:
👊🏼🗞 The 7-0 defeat against Liverpool shows that Manchester United is the biggest club in the world. When we lose, the whole world shakes. #MUFC pic.twitter.com/ocWjXWkbCv
— United Radar (@UnitedRadar) March 6, 2023
#1. Wout Weghorst not quite doing the job he was signed for by Manchester United:
Make no mistake about it, Weghorst has impressed a lot with his work-rate and defensive work. However that is not what he came to United for. Only one goal in 14 matches do not do justice to a centre-forward.
It can be argued that he has played as the No. 10 often and hence, did not have the chance to score goals frequently. However, with his size, he should be at the receiving end of crosses and also scoring goals with headers.
Moreover, he does not have the technical quality and finesse required to play as a No. 10 and can at most play as a false 9, thereby accommodating Bruno Fernandes as the playmaker.
Wout Weghorst has used footage of a Glazers Out protest as the opening of his matchday Instagram story. 🔰 pic.twitter.com/PAY5kg5FXp
— UnitedCloud🏴 (@unitedcIoud) March 9, 2023
#2. Optimum use of the likes of Fernandes and Jadon Sancho not being made:
That brings us to the second point of this discussion. With Christian Eriksen absent with an injury, Manchester United need to make better use of the remaining creative players at their disposal.
However, Fernandes starting on the left flank was not what should have been prescribed against Liverpool. He should be playing either as the playmaker or on the right flank to make full use of his talent.
Ten Hag will have to take a call in this regard and decide whether he should start with Weghorst in the playing eleven. If the big Dutch forward starts on the bench, it will allow United to start with Fernandes and Sancho in the starting eleven and it will invariably mean more creativity in their line-up.
Sancho has already shown that he can also play well at the centre of the pitch and his services should not be ignored altogether probably.
#3. The rotation policy not being used for the defenders:
Every United supporter must have been appalled by the sight of Lisandro Martinez being given a harrowing time by Mohamed Salah in the match against Liverpool. As brilliant as the diminutive Argentine has been in this season so far, he was probably a bit overcooked, having already featured in 37 matches this season.
Given his intensity and physical approach to the game, Martinez probably should be utilized judiciously from this point onwards. In comparison, his defensive partner Raphael Varane got a well-deserved rest and has played in 25 matches so far.
Luke Shaw has also played in 32 matches and ten Hag should probably start using players like Tyrell Malacia, Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire against lesser opponents. This will give the likes of Martinez and Shaw some reprieve and allow them to be fresher in the big matches.
Given that United are still alive in three competitions, the rotation policy becomes even more critical for them. It remains to be seen whether ten Hag takes a call in this regard.