Leaky defence, expensive GK errors: Looming Champions League exit may enable Ten Hag to kind Man Utd disaster

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Sports is unusual. It generally is a sheer magnificence at one level, then swiftly metamorphose right into a merciless expertise the one other. Nowhere is that this more true than within the high-intensity, high-pressure battles on the UEFA Champions League. The newest chapter in Manchester United’s European journey is an ideal reflection of contrasting feelings intertwining for the membership, as they have been restricted to a 3-3 draw at Galatasaray. United led 2-0 – after which 3-1 – earlier than the Turkish giants put a dampener on the aspect’s hopes for a round-of-16 berth. The draw meant United stay winless away from residence within the group stage regardless of having scored 9 targets on the street. 9.

Manchester United’s Dutch supervisor Erik ten Hag appears on in the course of the UEFA Champions League 1st spherical, day 5(AFP)

Andre Onana, the £47.2 million summer season recruit, was presupposed to carry stability between the posts for Manchester United, notably after years of inconsistent performances from de Gea. However, current performances have left followers questioning whether or not he can actually fill the large footwear. The summer season alternative has discovered himself within the eye of the storm after the draw in opposition to Galatasaray, the place he was unable to stop Hakim Ziyech from capitalizing on direct free kicks, leading to two essential targets.

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Life for Onana has taken a tumultuous flip. The stoppage-time penalty save in opposition to FC Copenhagen’s Jordan Larsson on matchday 4 had appeared to supply a redemption narrative after a shaky begin in opposition to Bayern Munich. Yet, the nightmare in Istanbul in opposition to Galatasaray has firmly pressed the reset button, inserting the goalkeeper’s capabilities below intense scrutiny.

But whereas Onana is rightfully criticised for his errors, one other query looms: Is he solely accountable for United’s defensive fragility, or is there a extra profound problem?

Manager Erik ten Hag, in his post-match protection of Onana, reiterated the acquainted mantra of a workforce “winning together and losing together.” However, these phrases ring hole in broader context. The defensive woes of Manchester United within the Champions League should not merely the results of remoted errors from the goalkeeper. Instead, they level to a systemic problem, a scarcity of cohesion and self-discipline that transcends particular person performances.

The first aim conceded in opposition to Galatasaray supplies a microcosmic view of the bigger downside. United’s attacking prowess, with overloaded gamers surging ahead, left them weak to a swift counter. Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay joined the assault, however when the transfer broke down, Fernandes was pressured right into a determined dash to stop a counter. In doing so, he fouled Mauro Icardi, conceding a free-kick that led to Ziyech’s aim. The sequence highlighted a elementary problem — the workforce’s incapacity to transition collectively.

Ten Hag’s post-match protection of his goalkeeper was anticipated, but it failed to handle the basis explanation for United’s defensive frailty. The adage of “winning together and losing together” falls flat when the workforce persistently fails to play ‘together’ like a cohesive unit.

Clearly, the defensive vulnerabilities should not confined to the Galatasaray sport; they’ve been a recurring theme all through United’s campaigns this season. The workforce’s propensity to commit too many gamers ahead, leaving them uncovered to counter-attacks, has been ruthlessly exploited by opponents. In 5 Champions League video games, United has conceded 14 targets, which is a defining purpose for the aspect reeling on the backside of the group stage regardless of slotting 9 away targets.

Naturally, a poor defensive cohesion means the attacking aptitude is nullified, ensuing within the aspect conceding 11 targets on the street in Europe.

Former United midfielder Paul Scholes minced no phrases when analyzing the Galatasaray sport, describing it as “complete madness.” He pinpointed the chaotic nature of the protection, with errors from the goalkeeper coupled with gamers like Fernandes giving freely pointless free kicks. Scholes harassed the necessity for a extra composed strategy, particularly when main in European away video games.

Bruno Fernandes, the United captain, echoed these sentiments, admitting that the workforce’s present strategy within the Champions League falls quick. The recurrent sample of main after which capitulating — shedding a lead at residence to Galatasaray, throwing away a two-goal benefit away to Copenhagen in a 4-3 defeat, and twice surrendering a two-goal lead in Istanbul earlier than settling for a 3-3 draw — suggests systemic points that transcend particular person errors.

It does not assist Ten Hag that dressing room points have additional slowed down their season. After the fiasco involving Mason Greenwood and sexual assault allegations on Antony (the Brazilian has since returned to the squad), Jadon Sancho was pressured to sidelines for a disciplinary problem that escalated to a fallout between him and the supervisor, and it was reported final month that Raphael Varane additionally needs a transfer away from Old Trafford. The French defender was on the bench in Istanbul with Ten Hag taking part in Harry Maguire within the defence as a substitute.

What subsequent for United?

The frailties on the again have lengthy haunted Manchester United, demanding Erik ten Hag to strike a proper stability between offensive prowess and defensive solidity. The defensive pairing of Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire has exhibited moments of competency however stays inconsistent at finest. Varane’s susceptibility to accidents provides one other layer of uncertainty to the defensive position’s stability, casting doubts on his long-term presence. While Luke Shaw’s return does bolster the squad, it falls wanting offering a complete resolution.

Ten Hag’s tactical strategy, emphasizing an aggressive surge ahead, has inadvertently grow to be counter-productive, leaving defensive vulnerabilities uncovered. Opposing managers have astutely exploited these weaknesses, as evidenced by United conceding 16 targets in 13 league matches this season. The earlier marketing campaign witnessed disheartening 0-7 and 3-6 defeats to bitter rivals Liverpool and Manchester City, underlying g the pressing want for a defensive reformation.

Their efficiency within the Champions League has undeniably fallen beneath par. However, this setback may nonetheless doubtlessly function a blessing in disguise; with one sport remaining within the Champions League in opposition to the high-flying Bayern Munich, the membership not controls its future. Copenhagen and Galatasaray sit at 5 factors every and these two groups will face one another within the last matchday of the group stage. United’s development probabilities hinge on a draw between the 2, assuming they in some way topple Bayern at Old Trafford.

While the duty seems daunting, the Champions League has witnessed extra unimaginable turnarounds. Failure to advance previous the group stage and ending fourth, nevertheless, would depart United with solely two main competitions to give attention to—the Premier League and the FA Cup. And United may benefit from it.

Manchester United has grappled with a big damage disaster this season. Key gamers comparable to Casemiro, Lisandro Martineez, Christian Eriksen, Amad Diallo, and Tyrell Malacia are at present sidelined. Additionally, Luke Shaw just lately returned after a protracted damage hiatus, and Raphael Varane has been stricken by on-and-off accidents since his arrival at Old Trafford final yr.

The scenario has been dire sufficient for United to resort to loaning in midfielder Sofiyan Amrabat and defender Sergio Reguilon to cowl for the multitude of accidents sustained within the beginning section of the 2023-24 season.

The lack of mid-week motion may doubtlessly present gamers with a much-needed breather after a difficult first half of the season. While this may increasingly not assure a trophy, it permits Ten Hag to mould a extra settled unit with more energizing legs, enhancing his skill to execute tactical methods successfully. Despite the underwhelming Champions League performances, Manchester United has gained momentum within the Premier League. Currently sixth however on a three-match successful streak, the workforce sits simply six factors behind league leaders Arsenal.



Content Source: www.hindustantimes.com

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