Home » Erik ten Hag needs to take a leaf from Sir Alex Ferguson’s playbook for big away days

Erik ten Hag needs to take a leaf from Sir Alex Ferguson’s playbook for big away days

by Ayantan Chowdhury

If you are a Manchester United fan, the Monday blues will have likely hit you harder than usual. Considering the run of form the team was in, not many would have envisaged a 0-7 capitulation at the hands of their fiercest rivals.

But Sunday proved to be a nightmare as the Red Devils conceded seven at Anfield. The first-half was a pretty even contest with United having the better chances but they went into the break a goal behind.

But the confidence was high among fans having seen their team come back from a goal down on numerous occasions. But what transpired was difficult to explain.

The team went on to concede six more times and the players just gave up at the end and showed a lack of desire, fight and pride which is inexcusable.

ETH’s big-game approach needs work

The players will be criticised and rightly so but Erik ten Hag deserves a bit of blame as well. The Dutchman has proved to be a miracle worker since his arrival at Old Trafford last summer but such a result will be a huge blot on his CV.

Sir Alex Ferguson knew the importance of an away tie at Anfield and respected the arena and he always picked a team that would not get beat first and foremost.

Never has he travelled to Merseyside and gone all gung-ho and Ten Hag needs to learn how to approach big away days in the future.

He had committed the same mistake against Manchester City and against Arsenal despite not having Casemiro in the squad.

During the pre-match press conference, it was pointed out to him that United have conceded six away to Manchester City and three to Arsenal, scorelines which are unacceptable.

The former Ajax coach had said his team need to take the next step in their evolution but Sunday was a huge step back.

Hindsight is a great gift to have and while the Dutchman will point to the first-half display, the fact is he should have played with a little more pragmatism.

Maybe once he gets all his desired players and manages to build a team in his own image, he can play the style he wants. But for now, this team is still not good enough to fight fire with fire away from home.

Going gung-ho is not always the answer

Starting with three midfielders would have been a wise solution especially considering Liverpool’s aggressive press. At right-back, Diogo Dalot should have been on the bench and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who is the better defender, should have started.

Attacking wise, Marcus Rashford has a great record against Trent Alexander-Arnold but playing Bruno Fernandes there who had little to contribute attacking-wise was not the best ploy.

Worryingly, the manager should have tried to contain the situation at 3-0 and instructed his players to try and hold the fort, even gone on to make a few defensive-minded substitutions.

Instead, they still pressed forward and in the end it turned out to be a night to forget for everyone associated with the club.

Unfortunately, Ten Hag will not be able to punish the players this time around as they have a game after three days and the squad is so thin that he can hardly make wholesale changes.


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