Manchester United were back in action after almost a month, and with several big names still involved with the ongoing World Cup, Erik ten Hag was forced to select a make-shift team in their match against Cadiz.
The second-half XI was entirely composed of academy graduates and despite their best efforts, the Red Devils lost the contest 2-4 on Wednesday.
And fringe players did not do their chances of breaking into the manager’s plans any good as United fell behind twice in the space of the first 15 minutes.
United struggle against La Liga relegation candidates
The first goal came via a set-piece delivery which saw very poor organisation at the back, something Lindelof and goalkeeper Martin Dubravka should have been on the top of.
The second was even worse as a simple counter- attack ended up in a goal. Right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, returning from injury, seemed disinterested in tracking back and catching up with his man and it surely signifies a swift exit from the club in January.
Erik ten Hag criticised Manchester United's "unacceptable" performance as his side lost 4-2 to Cadiz in a friendly… pic.twitter.com/fgSCc2cG8O
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 8, 2022
“Quite clear, we were not awake,” Ten Hag told MUTV. “Still sleeping. First 15 minutes. And we prepared – they are a threat in transition, we see the second goal, it can’t happen.
“You are not awake. Bad defence but especially in the midfield we got run off, it’s not possible, unacceptable. It’s the first goal as well – the set-play – bad organisation, undisciplined organisation to concede the goal.”
Players, irrespective of their standing in the squad know better than to irk the current boss. He does not do friendlies and takes defeats to heart as he had indicated pre-match.
ETH right to be unimpressed with a couple of United stars
Even more importantly, quite a few players who had the chance to impress considering the World Cup stars might not be unavailable for the Burnley game, should feel quite disappointed in themselves.
Van de Beek and Wan-Bissaka had the chance to start considering Portugal’s World Cup exertions but they fluffed their lines. The same goes for Elanga.
“We are unhappy with this game. Of course, you always have some positives when you lose a game, but today there are more negatives,” Ten Hag stressed.
“It has to be the standard always and, to be fair, first 15 minutes cannot happen. That is not our standard, it should not happen, so that is what we spoke about. We’ll [go] tomorrow again but we have to strike it, draw a line and move on, it cannot happen in the future.”
United’s next game is against Real Betis, who are currently sixth in La Liga and that contest is likely to see the manager pick a stronger squad or give squad players more minutes in preparation for the EFL Cup game.