‘So bad’ – is this Man Utd team really ‘one of the worst ever’?

'So bad' - is this Man Utd team really 'one of the worst ever'?
Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag walks in the rain at Old Trafford Getty Images

As Manchester United chased an equaliser against Arsenal on Sunday, the bright blue sky above Old Trafford rapidly gave way to thunderstorms and heavy rain.

Those conditions could easily act as a metaphor for the Red Devils’ season, where hopes of battling with the Gunners and Manchester City at the top of the table have turned to frustration at another campaign of disappointment.

In years gone by, games between Manchester United and Arsenal were meetings between two sides battling at the top of the table but this time the role of Erik ten Hag’s side was to be the spoiler in their rival’s title race, a task they ultimately fell short in.

“This is one of the worst Manchester United sides ever,” ex-Manchester United midfielder Robbie Savage bluntly, as he watched his former side try in vain to find an equaliser against the Gunners.

In the end, Leandro Trossard’s first-half goal proved decisive as Arsenal left Old Trafford with three points that moved them top of the table and ensured they take the fight with Manchester City for the Premier League title down to the final day.

“The disappointment for me, particularly the last half an hour, was Manchester United,” the club’s former captain, Roy Keane, said on Sky Sports.

“Against that team today, I bet Arsenal couldn’t believe how bad United were.”

‘The players need to look at themselves’

Arsenal and Manchester United players at Old Trafford on Sunday

Getty Images

In his pre-match programme notes, Ten Hag had called for his side to show fight and make amends for the 4-0 defeat they suffered against Crystal Palace last week.

But, for Keane, that fight was nowhere to be seen.

“You look at that last half an hour – the decision making, nobody digging anybody out, people making mistakes and falling over, and everyone just walking away, nobody putting demands on each other,” he added.

“That United team there, so bad.”

In isolation, a narrow loss to title-chasing Arsenal was arguably not a bad result for a side who started the day eighth and 29 points behind the Gunners.

But it was their 14th defeat of the season in the Premier League – more than any other side in the top half of the table – that leaves them in danger of no European football next term.

They have also lost nine games at Old Trafford this term – their joint-most at home in a season – and have conceded 82 goals in all competitions, which is their most since 1970-71.

“When you are losing games in the way Manchester United are at the minute there are going to be questions asked of the manager,” Manchester United’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney said on Sky Sports.

“But I think the players need to look at themselves.

“For some players it does look like they are just trying to reach the end of the season. If they are playing for Erik ten Hag I don’t think they are showing it very well.”

‘It is like swimming with you hands on your back’

Ten Hag’s future at Old Trafford remains uncertain. He has a year left on his contract but there has been growing speculation new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who was in attendance on Sunday, might be tempted to make a change.

The former Ajax boss understandably points to the volume of injuries his side has had to contend with this season.

“Every manager can always do better,” he said after Sunday’s game.

“I have been here two years and only one time had a full group of players. It is like swimming with your hands on your back and you have to keep your head above the water level.”

Despite the issues United have had this season, they do have the final of the FA Cup to look forward to.

But their opponents in that game are Manchester City and Ten Hag knows his side will need to show significantly more fight if they are to finish a disappointing season on a high.

Related Topics

  • Manchester United
  • Football
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