Manchester United’s ‘process’ is working – but major weaknesses still need to be fixed

May 22, 2022. Erik ten Haag, recently revealed as the successor to Ralph Rangnick and Manchester UnitedThe club’s new permanent manager took his seat in the Main Stand at Selhurst Park to watch his first match, and the club’s final match of the 2021–22 season.

The starting line-up since that day has featured a group of individuals whose confidence has been crippled by a series of disappointing results, a streak that continued in south London as United lost 1-0.

It capped off United’s worst season in the Premier League, in terms of points gained – the only consolation coming in the form of the debut of academy graduate Hannibal Mejbri, and Brighton’s 3-1 victory over West Ham ensuring United did not go down. To seventh place in the English Premier League table, and in the European League.

After 242 days, the age of Ten Hag was beginning to unfold. The starting eleven from Wednesday’s trip to Selhurst included only two names from the corresponding fixture in May (David De Gea And Bruno Fernandez):

United have been rejuvenated and rejuvenated in the last eight months, Palace’s squad boasts five new signings and the mentality is a far cry from the depressing sensibility of a team that ended last season on such a whimper.

However, not every problem with the team was resolved, a point United underlined by throwing two points into injury time when Michael Ollis curled in an unstoppable free kick to claim a 1-1 draw.

Ten Hag seemed visibly angry but didn’t complain much about his team’s overall performance. Victory in the Manchester derby last weekend prompted some fans to talk about Sunday’s game Arsenal as a potential six-pointer title, but this Selhurst Park tie served as a reminder that this United side can take nothing for granted in either Premier League Game. There are fewer on-field issues around this team than those that plague the class of 2022, but some of them linger.

One of them is advancing the ball through the two-thirds, and this is evident again in the first 20 minutes at Palace. Attempts to build from behind and pass into the central areas were often stopped by the Palace midfielder Will Hugheswho worked to block the most obvious permits available to them Raphael Varane And Lisandro Martinez. With the central midfield closed, United elected to pass the ball wide Luke Shaw And Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

It was an understandable alternative plan, made better by recent improvements from the right-back. Against his old club, Wan-Bissaka looked most comfortable with the ball in a United shirt, attempting a number of crosses to the far post for a new striker. Wout Westhorst. The club’s newest recruit was a bit out of sync with Bruno Fernandes in the opening minutes of the game, but as the first half developed he showed occasional glimpses of the “good feet of a big player” that make him more than a conventional goal-man.

The opening goal of the game came from Weghorst making a run which caught the attention of a number of Palace defenders Christian Eriksen A low cross from the left-back hits Fernandez. This is the United States in 2023; Cunning and sometimes sloppy in possession, but capable of scoring when needed.

Bruno Fernandes gives United the lead at Selhurst Park (Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images)

More than £200m has been spent after May 2022 to renovate the backbone of this team; The newer faces are responsible for maintaining and adjusting the in-game pressure while the older lieutenants are tasked with making use of it.

One of these new faces is CasemiroWhich again played a vital role in stemming the flow of opposition attacks Before the start of the powerful counterattacks. He’s often described as “the cement between the stones” by his manager, so it’s no wonder he was booked for 80 minutes. A rude challenge to Wilfried Zaha – his fifth yellow card of the season, which bars him from Arsenal’s trip – prompted many to worry.

He took a risk on Wednesday as no player can deliver his defensive strength, but he can’t be all over the place and be perfect in his every tackle. He wasn’t helped by his teammates when doing the recovery work he also enjoys – work he could have been kept out of.

Casemiro’s booking keeps him out of the Arsenal trip (Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Problems compounded early in stoppage time from Olese’s equaliser, but signs of danger were present in wide swathes of the second half as Palace channeled more attacks down United’s left, mistaking Shaw for the lead. Jeffrey Schlupp.

Had United survived the four extra minutes, it would have been their tenth successive victory in all competitions. The streak would have been United’s longest winning streak in 14 years since a run of 11 consecutive matches under Sir Alex Ferguson.

However, the word ‘would have been’ is not the talk of title contenders, and United’s often slow work on possession during the second half has put those who had hoped this team would be ahead of schedule back in the game. The legendary operation. Complaints about a possible penalty for a foul in the 71st minute Scott McTominay He was also fired by United’s full-time manager.

“You have to accept the VAR decisions from the referees,” he said. “I look in the mirror, I look at my team, I look at my management and coaching and then I say invest more for the second goal and then you avoid situations where you rely on refereeing, VAR etc. That’s what we have to do.”

United dropped the points at Palace because they weren’t convincing in the way they tried to win. Ten Hag’s United have come a long way since that dreary day in May, but they are still a work in progress – a team unable to weather every storm and coming off three points on the other side.

(Top photo: Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images)

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