It was all going well before Sunday’s Premier League away encounter against Aston Villa. United were on a nine-game unbeaten run and had last conceded from open play almost a month ago.
But whatever could go wrong did against the Villans as the Red Devils succumbed to a 1-3 defeat. The result meant United failed in their chance to reduce the gap with the teams in the top four.
Villa scored through Leon Bailey and Lucas Digne in the first half before Jacob Ramsey settled things early in the second half. A Ramsey own goal late in the first half had given United a glimmer of hope before it was wiped out in the second.
Fatigue plays a role
Such a result was not expected and the poor result was because of a lot of factors. The Reds entered the game only two days after a gruelling Europa League game and the players definitely looked tired.
Christian Eriksen certainly looked jaded and was often slow tracking back and to the second balls. Erik ten Hag has, so far this season, made the right calls selection-wise.
In the absence of Bruno Fernandes, it was essential United not only had a creative presence but also someone who worked hard.
But on Sunday, the decision to start a sub-par Donny van de Beek once again after his ineffective display in mid-week was not the right one.
The Dutchman looked lost most of the time and ideally, the team should cut their losses and bring in someone of quality.
It would have better off to start Fred especially with his aggressive pressing and it was incredible to see the Dutch midfielder emerge from the dressing room in the second-half.
Donny not good enough
Cristiano Ronaldo was once again poor and the decision to play Marcus Rashford on the right did not work.
The Portuguese would have buried his header in previous seasons but currently looks like a shadow of his former self.
When chasing the game, the manager did not have the best of options to call upon to change the game.
The Glazers must realise the need to freshen the squad, add cover in important areas like in the right-back slot, in the middle of the work and especially up front.
With the same opposition up next in the Carabao Cup, Ten Hag and United should ideally try and make up for their dismal display on Sunday.
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