West Ham United beat Manchester United 2-0 in a Premier League match at the London Stadium last Saturday to pile on the misery of the Red Devils. The victory meant that West Ham leapfrogged United to get into the sixth position in the league table with 30 points from 18 matches.
Manchester United, meanwhile, suffered their 13th defeat of the season _ the highest they have before Christmas since 1931_ and are now in the eighth position with 28 points from 18 matches. Erik ten Hag should find himself under considerable pressure
after Saturday’s reversal.
Manchester United’s attack continued to lack teeth:
United continued to be quite inept in their attack
against West Ham as well and have failed to score in four consecutive matches now. There has been a lack of cohesion between their centre-forward and wingers in the final third for quite some time now. As a result, their attack has been one of the most ineffective ones among the big teams in the league.
The ability to slice open opposition defences with incisive passing is no longer a quality one can associate United with.
Instead, there has been a tendency to play long passes to the wingers, who have looked threatening only when offered some space in the final third.
One can have a look at Jarrod Bowen’s goal for West Ham from Lucas Pacqueta’s one-touch pass against Manchester United to get the idea of the kind of creativity that is needed upfront at the highest level.
Somehow, the attacking unit of Manchester United have not been able to come up with anything of that kind in the recent past. They have often failed to play probing balls past a well-organized defensive line, which needs to be looked into quite seriously.
Then there was Andre Onana’s fumble that helped Bowen score, which was yet another instance of the African goalkeeper being unable to provide the sense of security his team needed.
A few youngsters have shown promise:
While United have lost in 13 matches before Christmas itself this season, a few of their youngsters have provided bright sparks amid a bleak period of time. Kobie Mainoo, the precocious 18-year-old, was guilty of losing possession casually for West Ham’s second goal.
However, the youngster should not be allowed to be weighed down by that, as his composure and calmness on the ball is something United will need in the future. Willy Kambawala, another teenager from the youth ranks, made his debut for the senior team as a centre-back against West Ham and was quite decent in his performance.
United supporters will be tempted to clutch at even a straw given the club’s current condition, and the two youngsters mentioned above should be the ones having the unenviable job of carrying the club forward.
Manchester United have a few tough matches ahead:
A lot of oppositions will seem to be tough for Manchester United at the moment, and it will not help that they play Aston Villa next. Then, they will take on the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers, neither of which is an easy opposition.
It remains to be seen whether ten Hag’s men are able to perform better in the second half of the season than in the first. The return of a number of injured players might propel them to do so, but one will not be willing to bet on it at the moment.