Manchester United’s loss against Tottenham Hotspur led to plenty of criticism for the usual suspects, as well as immense frustration towards Erik ten Hag and his team.
It would be easy to criticise Lisandro Martinez for his own goal, or Mason Mount for his worryingly anonymous display, or even the midfield in general for … reasons. But Ultimately it was on the flanks where Ten Hag needed a tweak, and in front of goal where United needed a spark.
On United’s right, Antony struggled to influence the game in an attacking sense, while on the left, Alejandro Garnacho was too easily lured by Pedro Porro’s infield movements, with his poor performance against Wolves last Monday seemingly brought with him down to London.
Football is essentially a game of space and overloads. With the space left by Porro to attack, Man United would have been far better off using a genuine wide threat on his side.
With his suspect defending, The Red Devils could have enjoyed a qualitative overload by placing their greatest attacking threat where Tottenham’s biggest defensive weakness exists, as had been suggested in The Peoples Person’s pre-match tactical preview.
Of course, United still managed to create plenty of chances to win the match in the first half, but the quality of finishing simply was not there.
Marcus Rashford had three shots – all of them before the interval and none of them coming from the inside left channel where he is most comfortable shooting from.
He still should have converted his one-on-one against Guglielmo Vicario and any player would see that as an opportunity for which they should have done better. But a top-class striker would know that such an opportunity was a golden chance unlikely to come around again.
And when the team misses such chances – and does so at a rate of every three minutes or so, as United did in the first half – confidence shatters, momentum flips, and frustration takes hold.
There was no finer example of that frustration than Rashford himself after his substitution, as he slumped onto the bench, dashing his boots to the ground, and wearing an expression of total disgust. At that point, he had gone 62 minutes of football without having a shot – perfectly normal for a natural centre forward, but far from it for Marcus Rashford.
Now it is clear that there are few options in the Manchester United squad to take on the role of the front man. But having just spent six weeks of preseason seemingly grooming Jadon Sancho for the false nine role, it is baffling that Erik ten Hag refuses to use the player there.
Sancho took to the role excellently, as The Peoples Person had anticipated that he would. His placement in a nominal striker role would get Rashford back where he is best and could even see more space opened up for Antony to start coming good.
With Nottingham Forest coming up next week, it is the perfect time to ring in the changes and get Marcus Rashford back where he can be most effective.
(All stats taken from SofaScore)