Manchester United struggled to control the tempo and to create chances as their Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur finished 2-2 on Sunday.
In front of new minority stakeholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe, manager Erik ten Hag’s strange tactics meant the opposition controlled proceedings while the hosts struggled to hold on to the ball.
This season, the manager’s instructions of trying to win the ball back higher at the expense of sustained control has meant opposing teams have had the joy of counter-attacking through the entire middle of the pitch.
And the same happened at Old Trafford as well, with the midfield of Kobbie Mainoo and Christian Eriksen overrun easily by the North London side.
Eriksen struggles in big games
The Dane was sometimes the deepest midfielder, while other times he tried to press high up the pitch, both roles he cannot handle due to his severe lack of pace.
Against big teams, it is a risk playing the Dane whose passing remains as ethereal as ever, but he just cannot run. Spurs took advantage and the former Tottenham man hardly had the ball.
In 58 minutes, the 31-year-old had only 20 touches of the ball, completing just 11 passes for an overall passing accuracy of 79 percent.
The Denmark international still made two key passes but his physical attributes let him down and he was almost a passenger at times, chasing shadows.
He won only 33 percent of his duels and lost the ball five times while fouling the opposition twice (all stats via Sofascore).
EtH needs to use him differently
He made one clearance and one tackle and was hardly allowed time on the ball and it was no surprise to see the manager remove him and bring on Scott McTominay, who had more touches of the ball in half an hour of action.
Eriksen can handle himself when playing against teams who employ a low block and allow him space and time to pick his pass. But against the teams who like to press, the Dane is mostly a liability.
He might survive in a stable midfield three where others can do the running for him but in this strange tactical set-up, Eriksen will always struggle.
The manager’s system is not helping matters as it is placing far too much of emphasis on the deepest midfielder to somehow try and stop the opposition wave.
Even when the likes of Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez start games, not much is expected to change mainly due to Ten Hag’s insistence on using such a flawed system.