Manchester United were defeated by Crystal Palace at Old Trafford for the fourth time in the league, only four days after defeating them 3-0 in the Carabao Cup.
The defeat was their fifth of the season and their fourth in the Premier League and leaves them in the bottom half of the table heading into October. Joachim Andersen bagged the winner with a stunning volley following a Jeffrey Schlupp flick-on from a set-piece in the first-half, and although United dominated the ball for the rest of the afternoon, their performance, yet again, wasn’t up to snuff.
Erik ten Hag hasn’t had a lot of success this season, but there were a lot of options to make ahead of what was a must-win game. Here, Daily Star Sport goes into the mistakes he made on the pitch today.
Mason Mount hasn’t managed a single goal or assist since joining United, and his starting position might be a contributing factor. The ex-Chelsea man has been deployed next to Casemiro in a two-man pivot, and although he gets forward far more than his Brazilian team-mate, he’s more-often-than-not a little too deep to properly affect things in the final third.
Mount made a name for himself at Stamford Bridge by popping up in the space between the opposition’s defensive and midfield lines and being a real threat in and around the box, and he’s struggled to have the same impact given the positional requirements of his role in Ten Hag’s team.
Bruno Fernandes, who is United’s first choice No. 10, isn’t going to be dropped anytime soon, so Mount will have to get used to the more all-encompassing role that’s being asked of him. But until that happens, his goal and assist drought might have some legs.
With both Jadon Sancho and Antony out, Ten Hag’s club is missing a key player at right wing. Facundo Pellistri appears to have a bright future, but what United really needs right now is consistency and goals.
Ten Hag took a gamble and started Pellistri over the (slightly) more experienced Alejandro Garnacho, who scored United’s opener against Palace in mid-week. Granted, Garnacho is better on the left than he is on the right, but the Argentine offered far more going forward than Pellistri did after replacing him on the hour-mark, and really ought to have started the game.
It seems unfair to condemn Ten Hag for using a defensive midfielder at left-back when all three of his left-backs are injured, but was Sofyan Amrabat the greatest option? He did play there versus Palace on Tuesday, but he was pulled after 60 minutes due to a couple of wobbly moments.
Centre-backs are often competent at filling in as temporary full-backs, and Victor Lindelof, who paired Raphael Varane in the centre today, has done so on occasion. As an instinctive defender, Lindelof would have been a better choice at left-back, with Harry Maguire or Jonny Evans filling in in the centre. It was open season for Palace on United’s defence with Amrabat and Marcus ‘doesn’t like to track back’ Rashford left-flank, and Ten Hag must take the blame for that.