Manchester United finally broke their three-match losing streak, holding on for a narrow 1-0 win against Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday.
Captain Bruno Fernandes scored the game’s only goal with a fantastic left-footed volley from a brilliant pass by Jonny Evans from defence. A goal that highlighted the benefits of going direct at times.
For now, the three points lifted them into the top half of the table and will have eased the pressure on manager Erik ten Hag.
ETH tactical tweaks seemed unnecessary
However, the performance was far from good as the team struggled to create opportunities while generally being very slow in the build-up, allowing Burnley to dictate the tempo.
A few changes were forced on the manager with Evans starting for United after eight years due to Lisandro Martinez’s foot injury prior to the game.
Hannibal Mejbri started for only the second time in his career, but for some strange reason, he was played as the attacking midfielder while Bruno Fernandes was shunted out wide.
Even last season, the manager was guilty of playing his most creative outlet out wide instead of using him where he is best suited.
The Portuguese did score while the Tunisian tried his hardest and covered a lot of ground but it does not make sense to change something that is the only thing that consistently delivers.
Hopefully, from the next game, Fernandes will be restored to his No 10 position while Mason Mount can make his recovery and play on the right and allow the team to keep its natural shape.
The current diamond formation hardly allows for any width and slows the tempo down and is not really conducive for the fast counters through the wingers.
Injury concerns mounting
However, the victory came at some cost as Sergio Reguilon became the latest victim of an injury as he seemed to come off with a hamstring issue.
Only time will tell whether it is a serious problem or one he can recover from quickly. United are currently without four out of five full-backs.
So dire is the situation with full-backs that Sofyan Amrabat, brought in to add steel to the midfield, ended up making his debut and playing as the left-back in the dying moments of the game.
Up next for United is a Carabao Cup tie against Crystal Palace as they look to defend their crown. It will be intriguing to see what defence he picks with most players struggling with injury.