West Ham 2-0 Manchester United: ‘Big problems’ for visitors after worst start since 1930

23 December 2023 0 By Total Football News
Manchester United players look dejectedMan Utd have lost three of their last four matches and failed to score in any of them for the first time since 1992

Manchester United's dismal season continues as their loss to West Ham - a 13th in all competitions - marks their worst start to a season since 1930.

The Hammers' 2-0 win at the London Stadium means United have just one win in seven games in all competitions and sit eighth in the Premier League.

Former midfielder Paul Scholes said his old side have "big problems" while manager Erik ten Hag said they are "underperforming".

Ex-England striker Alan Shearer added on BBC Match of the Day: "It is embarrassing for Man Utd. They have scored 18 goals this season, only Sheffield United have scored fewer. Erik Ten Hag says 'we have to stick to the plan' but I haven't got a clue what that plan is. There is something drastically wrong."

Not scoring goals, not winning games, a growing list of injuries and an ongoing saga around their ownership - what is going on at Manchester United?

United's poor run - the statistics

  • United have lost 13 of their past 26 matches in all competitions this season, as many defeats as they recorded in all 62 competitive games last season.
  • United's tally of 20 defeats in all competitions in 2023 is their most in a calendar year since losing 20 in 1989.
  • It is their most defeats before Christmas since 1930 - a season in which they finished bottom of the top flight.
  • They have scored just 18 goals in 18 top-flight games this season, failing to score in seven of those games.
  • In a top-flight season, the only times they have managed fewer than 18 goals after their first 18 league games are 1973-74 (15), 1972-73 (16) and 1893-94 (15).
  • United have failed to score in four successive games in all competitions for the first time since November 1992 under Sir Alex Ferguson

'Underperforming' and 'not good enough'

After Ten Hag's side earned a point against Liverpool last time out, scrutiny seemed to be momentarily alleviated. But a flat performance in Saturday's defeat places renewed pressure on the Dutchman and exposes their frailties.

Granted, Ten Hag is missing several key players through injury including Casemiro, Harry Maguire and Lisandro Martinez while Christian Eriksen returned to the bench at the London Stadium but was only fit enough for a short cameo in the final few minutes.

The absence of Maguire, Martinez, Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof meant Ten Hag was forced to give 19-year-old French centre-back Willy Kambwala a debut, alongside 35-year-old Jonny Evans.

"There are reasons for it [the loss], we have many injuries, so the team will be better if the injured ones return," said Ten Hag. "We have to be calm, stick together, stick to the plan, we have to do it together."

Perhaps more concerning for the manager is the lack of attacking threat his side possess with none of his forward players firing and a goal drought extending to four games.

"At this moment we are not top, but we have seen last week against the top of this league we were head-to-head," said Ten Hag.

"In 2023, we won a cup, we played the FA Cup final, we were third in the league. There were highlights but we were over-performing, but in this moment we are underperforming."

Defender Luke Shaw said his side's performance was "not good enough" and criticised their inability to win games.

"We keep losing games, losing points and we're making it very hard for ourselves. Especially that second half, not good enough," he said.

"It's tough to think what's going on. I think maybe we're just not creating enough and when we do on the other hand we're not clinical.

"Maybe it could be a lack of confidence at the moment, sometimes that's normal in football, it happens.

"We know that and we have to dig deep, look ourselves in the mirror and question ourselves and go from there."

'It's getting embarrassing' - what the pundits said

Former Manchester United midfielder Scholes said on TNT Sports: "Manchester United struggled last season in big away games as well - they have been naive.

"This year United have had so many injuries, they have been to the better players and it is a problem.

"United have problems, goal scoring is a big issue. They aren't creating at all.

"Every single player is struggling with confidence going forward. The forward players have to step up, find some confidence and bring some threat. There is no threat to the team. This is a very patched up team you have to say.

"You spend a lot of money on players, expecting a lot more from. Not happening for [Marcus] Rashford either. Easiest thing to coach in football is defending, hardest thing is to teach them to how to score goals. That has to come from the players. It is seriously lacking.

"It's getting embarrassing, creativity is the big problem. The only time in the last 18 months I saw a connection was between Eriksen and Fernandes. I don't think you will see the best of this Man Utd team before the end of January - it is going to a very tough few weeks."

Former West Ham striker Joe Cole said on TNT Sports: "The forwards have been feeding off scraps because they don't have the balance right behind them. What are Man Utd? We don't know how they want to play but missing key players is a big issue. They do need to improve.

"I saw a lack of energy on the pitch. They work enough with each other to have cohesion. [Rasmus] Hojlund has the second least touches of PL forwards - that is Man Utd we are talking about. There is something that is not right here.

"Man Utd need to recruit on character next rather than performance. You can't have a Man Utd team without the desire and heart - where is the players crashing into tackles?

Former Scotland striker Ally McCoist said on TNT Sports: "A 13th defeat of the season for United this season - that is unacceptable for any Manchester United team.

"It is so worrying for United, they have big problems. In front of goal they don't look as though they are going to score at all."

Former Brentford boss Mark Warburton on BBC Radio 5 Live: "There's no cutting edge. They need to find a way to score goals and I have no idea where those goals are going to come from.

"Manchester United look so flat here. There is nothing about United at the moment that inspires you. It will be concerning for Ten Hag."

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