It has been a perfect start to pre-season in terms of results for Erik ten Hag. Manchester United have scored four on the trot and conceded a solitary goal. However, the Dutchman has admitted that the team keeps making defensive errors, something that needs to be fixed.
Against Melbourne Victory, despite dominating possession, United conceded first. And the goal was typical of the strikes the Old Trafford outfit have let in under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick.
Luke Shaw has often been criticized for being out of position. And that was the case against Melbourne as well. With the full-back woefully out of position, it was left to Victor Lindelof to cover the space.
— Simon Peach (@SimonPeach) July 15, 2022
However, he was in two minds whether to try and cut out the pass or go for the man. He ended up doing neither.
Skipper Harry Maguire tried to step up and play the off-side trap but it ended up being unsuccessful. Ben Folami broke the off-side trap and laid off a perfect low ball for Chris Ikonomidis to finish first time past a diving Tom Heaton.
The skipper huffed and puffed as he tried to cut out the final pass but his lack of pace meant the A-League side took the lead against the run of play.
ETH not happy
When asked about his reaction to the goal conceded, Ten Hag stopped short of criticizing his centre halves and instead said the goal was a collective failure as the team was opened up like “a pack of cards”.
“I don’t want to talk about the individual because I think it was from the start, high up the pitch, the wrong choices and then it ends up like a pack of cards. It’s not one individual, it is more the team who made mistakes.”
The Argentine’s pace will help up put out fires when the high-line gets exposed or during transition moments. He can cover in case the left-back is caught up field or can run back to cut out the final pass.
Ten Hag will be hoping that Raphael Varane gets back on to the pitch as soon as possible so that he can try out other centre-back pairings to understand which combination works best.
The Maguire-Lindelof one certainly does not as seen by two managers previously. United need the defensive unit to click if they are to have a successful season this time around.