Manchester United lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace in a Premier League match at Old Trafford on Saturday. It was their second successive home defeat and also their fourth defeat in seven matches in the league. The Red Devils are now 10th in the league table with nine points from seven matches, meaning the pressure is thus intensifying on Erik ten Hag.
The problems are manifold before the Dutch manager and it remains to be seen whether he is able to overcome them and turn things around with United. Anything less than a top four finish will be considered as a failure for the Red Devils and that seems to be a tall order for them. So many defeats are not usual for a team of United’s stature and they need to do something to regain the faith of their supporters
The current formation is not working
Manchester United’s 4-2-3-1 formation is clearly not working at the moment. With Luke Shaw and Sergio Reguilón’s injuries, ten Hag used Sofyan Amrabat as a makeshift left
back against Palace, with Mason Mount and Casemiro as the two defensive midfielders.
It should have been obvious by now that Mount cannot play as a holding midfielder. Still, ten Hag seems to be persistent with that idea. Playing with a back-three consisting of three central defenders
, with Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and Amrabat ahead of them could prove to be a solution. That would enable United to play long balls to their front-three from inside their own half.
The 3-3-1-3 will also put Bruno Fernandes in a free role that the Portuguese midfielder will enjoy, behind the United forwards. Fernandes’ mobility and ability to play crosses should be exploited fully and it can be done using the above formation. It remains to be seen whether ten Hag changes his tactic in the upcoming matches. Time is short for him, as United is in a desperate situation already. Matches against Manchester City, Liverpool and Newcastle United are yet to come.
Lack of goal-scorers upfront
The most disturbing piece of statistics for United is the one that Casemiro is the player with the highest number of goals (four) for them till now. Marcus Rashford and Rasmus Højlund have a combined total of two goals between them, which is disappointing to say the least.
In the absence of Jadon Sancho and Antony, Facundo Pellistri has played as the right winger in a few matches. He definitely needs more time to make his mark. Hannibal Mejbri has been quite impressive, probably the most impressive of all of United’s youngsters. However, the challenge for ten Hag will be to accommodate him in the starting 11. It would have helped if he could play on the right flank, but he is more adept at playing in central areas.
United has looked most dangerous in their attack whenever Rashford makes darting inside runs from the left flank. However, most of their opponents know it by now and prepare themselves accordingly. The lack of form from Anthony Martial has also been a problem for United, as the French striker has failed to play him into form.
United is already thinking of starting Alejandro Garnacho and Antony against Galatasaray
in UEFA Champions League, with Rashford likely to be benched. Fingers will be crossed, however, for a positive result from the match.