• Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

Explaining Manchester United’s catastrophic start

ByWill Duffield

Oct 16, 2023
photograph of a football open-air stadium

It’s fair to say that Manchester United have had a poor start to the Premier League season. In fact, it is their worst start to a campaign since 1989, as they have lost four out of seven games in the league, which puts them tenth in the table. They also appear to be making a quick exit out of the Champions League, as they have lost both of their opening matches against Bayern Munich and more recently an embarrassing home defeat to Galatasaray.

These poor results have some asking whether there are fundamental problems deep within the club which are preventing United from reaching the heights of the past

On the pitch, there are serious worries about squad depth. A key attribute to United’s success last season, where they finished in the top four and won the EFL Cup, was the rich vein of form Marcus Rashford found towards the latter stages of the season. The England striker scored 30 goals in all competitions, yet this year he has only managed to find the net once. This lack of goals has put the responsibility onto other players. Whilst summer signing Rasmus Højlund has started the season well with three goals in the Champions League, he hasn’t scored in the Premiership and has struggled to adjust to the fast paced nature of English football.

They also have a long list of injuries, especially in defence, as Lisandro Martinez is still out with a foot problem and Raphaël Varane has only just returned to action. With two of United’s most senior and experienced players at the back missing a significant amount of game time, their record is perhaps no surprise.

There are a number of concerning issues away from the pitch. Jadon Sancho’s future with the club is in doubt after a public dispute with manager Erik ten Hag over the former’s lack of effort in training. He has not played for Manchester United since August. This conflict, which has played out through media statements and social media posts, suggest that ten Hag may be losing the respect of his dressing room.

There are also continuing criminal allegations of domestic violence surrounding Antony. Despite this, the club released a statement on Friday 29 September saying that “he will resume training at Carrington, and be available for selection, while police inquiries proceed.” His involvement in the team whilst investigations are still taking place may be contributing to this general feeling of frustration around the club.

United seem to have no direction at the moment, and with their rivals, Manchester City, sitting pretty at the top of the table, it seems like the club is very much in a period of crisis.

Old Trafford Manchester United” by Paolo Camera is licensed under CC BY 2.0.