Manchester United suffered a humiliating 3-0 defeat to Sevilla in the second leg of the Europa League quarterfinal, ending their hopes of adding another trophy to their cabinet this season. In this blog post, we will analyze what went wrong for Erik ten Hag’s side.
The costly errors of De Gea and Maguire
One of the main reasons for Manchester United’s downfall was the poor performance of their goalkeeper, David de Gea, and their captain, Harry Maguire. The duo was responsible for gifting Sevilla the opening goal in the 13th minute when De Gea passed the ball to Maguire despite being surrounded by three Sevilla players. Maguire failed to clear the ball, and it fell to Youssef En-Nesyri, who slotted it past De Gea.
De Gea made another blunder in the second half when he came out of his area to deal with a long ball and missed his kick, allowing En-Nesyri to score his second goal. Maguire also looked shaky and nervous throughout the game, failing to organize his defense and communicate with his teammates.
De Gea and Maguire have been under fire for their inconsistent form this season, and this game only added to their woes. Ten Hag needs to decide whether he can trust them as his first-choice goalkeeper and center-back or whether he needs to look for replacements in the summer.
The lack of firepower upfront
Another problem for Manchester United was their inability to create and convert chances in front of the goal. They had 15 shots in total, but only seven were on target. They also failed to score from eight corners and three free kicks.
Anthony Martial, who started as the lone striker, was ineffective and isolated. He had only one shot on target and was substituted in the second half after picking up an injury. His replacement, Wout Weghorst, did not fare much better, as he wasted a good opportunity by shooting from distance instead of passing to Antony.
Jadon Sancho, who was expected to provide some spark and creativity on the wing, was also disappointing. He looked unsure of himself and lacked confidence. He was replaced by Marcus Rashford at halftime, who tried to make an impact but could not find a way past Sevilla’s defense.
Ten Hag has made it clear that he wants a new center-forward in the summer, as he does not seem to have faith in Martial or Weghorst. He also needs to find a way to get the best out of Sancho and Eriksen, who have not lived up to their expectations since joining Manchester United.
The questionable decisions and tactics of Ten Hag
Finally, we have to question some of the decisions and tactics of Ten Hag, who has been praised for his work at Manchester United but also faced some criticism. Ten Hag made some questionable substitutions in both legs of the tie, which did not have the desired effect.
In the first leg, he made three changes at once when Manchester United was leading 2-0 with 10 minutes left. He brought on Fred, Antony, and Dalot for Casemiro, Rashford, and Wan-Bissaka. It disrupted the rhythm and balance of the team and allowed Sevilla to score two late goals that gave them a lifeline.
Ten Hag also failed to adapt his tactics to counter Sevilla’s high press and set pieces. He insisted on playing out from the back, which invited pressure and led to mistakes. He also did not organize his defense well enough to deal with Sevilla’s corners and crosses, which resulted in two goals.
Ten Hag needs to learn from his mistakes and improve his game management and tactical flexibility.
The players Manchester United must offload this summer
According to reports, Ten Hag has already identified players he wants to sell this summer as he looks to raise funds and make room for new signings.
Maguire: An expensive flop
Harry Maguire was supposed to be the leader and the rock of Man United’s defense when he joined from Leicester for a world-record fee of £80 million in 2019. However, the England international has failed to live up to his price tag and reputation. Maguire has been prone to errors, slow on the ball, and weak in the air. He has lost his place in the team to Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane, who have formed a solid partnership at the back. Maguire is also no longer the captain, as Ten Hag has given the armband to Bruno Fernandes.
Maguire still has three years left on his contract, but United are willing to cut their losses and sell him this summer. They hope to recoup at least half of what they paid for him, and there could be some interest from other Premier League clubs.
Anthony Martial: Inconsistent forward
Anthony Martial has been one of the most frustrating players for Manchester United fans. The French forward has shown glimmers of his talent and potential, but he has also struggled with injuries, poor form, and a lack of confidence. Martial has scored only six goals in 28 appearances this season, and he has missed several chances that could have made a difference in crucial games. He has also struggled to fit into Ten Hag’s system. Martial still has two years left on his contract, but he could be sold this summer if United receives a good offer for him.
David de Gea: Declining goalkeeper
David de Gea was once regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, but he has suffered a dramatic decline in recent years. The Spaniard made several costly errors and lost his confidence and authority. De Gea is on a huge salary of £375k per week, which makes him difficult to sell. However, United could try to offload him this summer as they look to have other options in goal.
Scott McTominay: Limited midfielder
Scott McTominay is a hard-working and loyal player who has come through the ranks at Manchester United. However, he is also a limited midfielder who lacks the technical ability and creativity to play at the highest level. Ten Hag has used McTominay as a defensive midfielder or a box-to-box midfielder, but he hasn’t been able to make an impact on games or offer much assistance to the attack. He has also been prone to mistakes and fouls.
The way forward for Man United
Man United has had a decent season so far, winning the Carabao Cup and reaching the final of the FA Cup. They are also in a good position to finish in the top four in the Premier League. However, they will be disappointed with their exit from the Europa League, which was a realistic chance of winning another trophy. They need to prepare for next season, when they will be back in the Champions League and face tougher competition.
Ten Hag has done a good job at Manchester United so far, but he also has a lot of work to do. He needs to address the weaknesses and flaws in his squad and make some smart signings in the summer. He also needs to improve his decision-making and tactics and find a way to get the best out of his star players. Manchester United have the potential and ambition to be one of the top teams in Europe, but they also have to prove it on the pitch. They have to learn from their mistakes and bounce back next season. They have to show that they are not a team that implodes but a team that improves.
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