Borussia Dortmund midfielder and former Manchester United loan star Marcel Sabitzer has said that injuries are to blame for the Red Devils’ dismal start to the season.
Erik ten Hag and his players have come under pressure for a number of poor results and wanting performances.
United have lost eight games across 16 matches in all competitions this season.
At the moment, Erik ten Hag’s side are in eighth position in the league, six points adrift of Arsenal who are in fourth.
In the Champions League, United are third in Group A after managing just one win in three clashes, which came against FC Copenhagen at Old Trafford.
The 20-time English champions got some much-needed reprieve after their victory vs. Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
A late goal from Bruno Fernandes ensured the club clinched all three points to relieve pressure that was mounting.
Sabitzer spoke to The Athletic and discussed a number of issues including his loan spell at United and why the team is struggling this term after making so much progress last season.
He was signed from Bayern Munich on transfer deadline day in January after Christian Eriksen sustained an injury during an FA Cup clash against Reading.
Sabitzer did relatively well but at the end of his tenure, United elected not to make his signing permanent.
He was not helped by the fact that he picked up an injury which required surgery.
The Austrian said, “I went straight into the deep end after that tricky time at Bayern. I felt very good on the pitch and regained my confidence, I realised that I still had it and, despite not having that rhythm that comes with regular starts, I showed that I could still do it at that level.”
“It helped me a lot. Physically, mentally and football-wise, I’m very happy with how the last 10, 11 months have gone.”
Sabitzer revealed that when he was at United, there was generally a “positive and very calm atmosphere.”
The Dortmund star noted that all the players and coaching staff were firmly focused on improving on the pitch and there was an overwhelming feeling that the club was slowly returning to where it rightfully belongs.
The 29-year-old added, “I feel very positive about my time there and still talk to a couple of people. You ask yourself, ‘What’s going on?’ There’s a lot of noise, results are not good, they’ve had defeats at home, which almost felt unthinkable last season.”
“And there’s still the unresolved situation of the ownership. You can see what that does to a team. I feel sorry for them because they’re all good guys, and extremely hungry for success.”
When pushed to give possible reasons why United are struggling this season, Sabitzer quickly pointed out that injuries to key players could be a huge factor.
He suggested the respective absences of the likes of Casemiro, Luke Shaw and Lisandro Martinez who are all leaders that provide structure and stability as potential explanations for the drop in performances.
Sabitzer further stated, “Erik ten Hag comes with up very specific match plans and patterns of play. But if you have too many important players missing and too many changes as a result, things get lost between the tactics board and the pitch. The rhythm of players coming isn’t right, processes aren’t right.”
He divulged that especially in England where competition is stiff, a team needs its strongest and most capable players to be available.
Sabitzer expressed hope that when players return, United will be able to show their true ability and get back to consistently winning.