Manchester United travelled to London to take on David Moyes’ West Ham off the back of their 0-0 draw against Liverpool at Anfield last week.
Looking to build on the confidence gained vs. Jurgen Klopp’s men and after a full week of rest, the Dutchman named a relatively strong starting XI considering the options at his disposal.
He started Andre Onana in goal with a defensive four of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Willy Kambwala, Jonny Evans and Luke Shaw ahead of the goalkeeper.
In midfield, Ten Hag gave the nod to Kobbie Mainoo, Scott McTominay and Bruno Fernandes.
Rasmus Hojlund led the line with Alejandro Garnacho and Antony on either side of him. Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s 2-0 defeat against West Ham.
Garnacho needs to massively improve on his end product
One thing that was clear against the Hammers is that Garnacho still has a lot of work with respect to coming up with the goods in front of goal.
In recent matches, the Argentine seems to have replaced Marcus Rashford in Ten Hag’s thinking.
However, at the London Stadium, Garnacho couldn’t show why he was preferred ahead of Rashford.
Garnacho who is usually adept at taking on his man and beating defenders at one versus one situations was contained by Coufal and Edson Alvarez, who was excellent.
The United winger struggled to have an impact in the clash.
Even more concerning is just how wasteful he was, especially when presented with clear-cut opportunities to score.
In the 35th minute, Garnacho was put through on goal with Areola at his mercy. However, the 19-year-old messed up the chance as the ball got stuck between his feet. He could only manage a very weak shot that didn’t trouble Areola at all.
A few moments later, Garnacho found himself running towards the West Ham goal. Firing a shot to try and break the deadlock seemed like the most obvious and better choice but the Carrington academy graduate chose to try and square the ball to McTominay. His cross was intercepted and the effort was completely snuffed out.
Garnacho has a habit of getting in good positions but most times, has struggled to finish his chances. Against the Hammers, his failure cost the team and the Red Devils were harshly punished.
In the second half, the forward like most of his teammates, did not offer much. It’s however important to remember that Garnacho is still very young and learning his trade.
Going forward, being clinical is something he must work on and urgently improve.
Solid debut by Kambwala
The surprise inclusion when the official team sheet came out was Willy Kambwala.
The defender was handed his senior debut right next to the experienced Evans.
Before the game, Ten Hag told reporters that Varane was ill and as such, was not available to play vs. the Irons. Despite United losing badly, Kambwala gave a very good account of himself.
The 19-year-old was solid and up until West Ham found the back of the net via Bowen when Shaw was caught sleeping, he arguably looked like a man-of-the-match contender.
Kambwala’s passing was refined and crisp. He frequently found his target.
To put just how much involved in the game he was into context, the centre-back completed the second most passes in the opening 45 minutes across both teams.
When required to delve into duels, Kambwala mostly came out on top and one could not tell he was making his maiden senior bow in front of the United supporters.
The United academy seems to have another gem on its hands and Kambwala is likely to get more opportunities in the first team in the forthcoming games, especially during a season in which the 20-time English champions have been riddled with injuries.
Pressure back on Ten Hag and his players
If Ten Hag built up any credit from the goalless draw against Liverpool, all that has been undone courtesy of the defeat at the hands of David Moyes’ West Ham.
This term in the Premier League, the 53-year-old coach has overseen eight losses in the 18 games played so far – hardly good enough by United’s usually high standards.
It’s even more worrying that the United players can’t seem to score a goal to save their lives.
The Reds had most of the possession for large segments of proceedings at the London Stadium, but they couldn’t make their apparent “dominance” count.
Pressure is certainly mounting on Ten Hag and he is definitely not as bulletproof and immune to criticism as he once was.
With Sir Jim Ratcliffe closing in on his 25% partial investment into United, questions will undoubtedly be asked of the job Ten Hag is doing after spending so much in past transfer windows.
Up next for United is the unenviable task of hosting Unai Emery’s high-flying Aston Villa on Tuesday.