What has gone wrong at Manchester United after new low in Crystal Palace defeat?

Manchester United’s poor second season under Erik ten Hag reached a new nadir in Monday’s shambolic 4-0 defeat at Crystal Palace.

In the wake of the Red Devils’ latest humiliation, we have a look at what has gone wrong and what is to come over the coming weeks.

What is the situation at United?

The Red Devils are on course for their worst ever Premier League campaign and in danger of missing out on European qualification entirely. Ruled out of Champions League contention with four matches to spare, United languish eighth on 54 points following their 13th league loss of the campaign. They have never lost more in the Premier League era and only have three matches left to avoid setting competition records for their worst finish (seventh in 2013-14) and lowest points tally (58 points in 2021-22).

Hadn’t things been looking up under Ten Hag?

Ten Hag took over in the summer of 2022 after United had slumped home sixth in a campaign to forget that saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sacked and interim successor Ralf Rangnick flounder. The latter had said open heart surgery was required at Old Trafford, but that comment looked exaggerated as the former Ajax boss quickly turned things around. United ended their six-year wait for silverware by winning the Carabao Cup in February 2023, before finishing third in the league and runners-up in the FA Cup final. But this season things have unravelled.

What has gone wrong at United then?

Too many injuries and underperforming players in a side lacking the hallmarks of a well-coached team. United have suffered an eye-watering 62 different cases of injury or illness this term, with 11 first-team players unavailable for Monday’s trip to Selhurst Park. Normally reliable captain Bruno Fernandes even missed out at Palace, where they were without five centre-backs, both left-backs and other key players. That offers mitigation, but the lack of ability to strike a balance and stave off wave upon wave of attacks has raised legitimate questions over ten Hag and his staff. Former Liverpool captain Jamie Carragher said after Monday’s loss that United were “one of the most poorly coached teams in the Premier League”.

What’s next for United?

An unenviable return to action against title-chasing Arsenal on Sunday at Old Trafford, where they then return on Wednesday to take on fellow European hopefuls Newcastle in their final home match. A trip to Brighton – not a happy hunting ground for United – brings the curtain down on the Premier League season, before Wembley offers the chance to end a woeful season on a high. Ten Hag has somehow managed to steer the side through choppy waters to another FA Cup final, where his side will take on rivals Manchester City under the arch for the second season running. Winning that would alleviate pressure and seal Europa League football, but it is an outcome that few expect.

What about the manager’s position?

External pressure has never been higher on the United boss, who has just one year remaining on his deal. Ten Hag has come out fighting in recent weeks, angered by what he feels are harsh perceptions and a belief that United do not need to start from scratch. The 54-year-old has been involved in all recruitment meetings and pre-season tour planning, but it remains to be seen whether he will be there to see it through. Odds on ten Hag losing his job shortened after the Selhurst Park debacle and ambitious Ineos, who took control of football operations as part of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s £1.3billion minority ownership deal, have some big decisions to make. They have begun widespread changes behind the scenes but there is a paucity of standout replacements for ten Hag. The current bookmakers’ favourites for the post are Gareth Southgate, Graham Potter and Thomas Tuchel.

Sourse: breakingnews.ie

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