Manchester United’s problems? Only defence, midfield and attack! Mail Sport’s experts have their say on the woes of Erik ten Hag’s side following a run of three straight defeats

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Following their 4-3 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday, Manchester United are in danger of letting their season fall apart before September ends. 

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Erik ten Hag has now overseen a run of three losses in a row following Premier League defeats to Arsenal and Brighton, and United were also beaten by Tottenham in the second week of the season. 

Injuries have ravaged Ten Hag’s squad, with Raphael Varane and Luke Shaw missing from an increasingly shakey defence and new signing Mason Mount denied the opportunity to make an early mark at Old Trafford. 

A number of off-field issues have also hampered United, with Antony currently on a leave of absence from the club and Jadon Sancho forced to train with the youth team following a public falling out with his manager. 

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Here, MailSport’s experts have their say on what is going wrong for Ten Hag and his side. 

Pressure is beginning to build on Erik ten Hag following a run of three defeats in a row for Manchester United

Pressure is beginning to build on Erik ten Hag following a run of three defeats in a row for Manchester United

Ten Hag has faced a number of issues this season, including a growing injury list and a series of off-field incidents.

Ten Hag has faced a number of issues this season, including a growing injury list and a series of off-field incidents.

 

IAN LADYMAN

MAIN PROBLEM: Scrambled attacking identity.

SOLUTION: They’ve become a counter-attacking team almost by accident. They can’t dominate the ball so find it hard to dictate the rhythm and direction of matches. Midfield is not athletic enough and the back four are not comfortable enough in possession. Andre Onana wants to pass the ball but is more capable with it at his feet than some of those in front of him.

 

 

CHRIS WHEELER

MAIN PROBLEM: Leaky defence.

SOLUTION: Erik ten Hag has spoken about the importance of United defending as a team, but they desperately need to restore their most effective back four by getting Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka fit again. The defence are leaking goals — they have let in 14 in six matches so far this season —and then the team’s fragile confidence begins to crumble.

 

 

JACK GAUGHAN

MAIN PROBLEM: Response to adversity.

SOLUTION: United didn’t gather themselves after the disallowed goal at Arsenal, then never really looked as if they’d fight back during defeats by Brighton and Bayern Munich. The scoreline in Germany flattered them and Casemiro’s goal to make it 3-2 felt like an accident. Injuries offer some mitigation but the collective application — and a lack of real leadership — needs addressing quickly.

 

 

NATHAN SALT

MAIN PROBLEM: No defensive leadership.

SOLUTION: The fact that only Burnley and Wolves have conceded more goals than United in the first five games should sound the alarm. Andre Onana said after the defeat at Bayern he has not been good enough but it’s the defensive unit as a whole. Erik ten Hag can’t get Raphael Varane back soon enough with the Frenchman possessing the leadership others are lacking.

 

 

ANTHONY HAY

MAIN PROBLEM: Where’s the pace and power?

SOLUTION: United’s defence and midfield are being outrun and overpowered. Christian Eriksen, who is a No 10 playing as a holding midfielder, is being bullied — leaving an ageing Casemiro stranded. Erik ten Hag has no choice but to rush back Raphael Varane and Sofyan Amrabat against Burnley as they will help to toughen up their side’s soft underbelly.

IT’S ALL KICKING OFF! 

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