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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Erik ten Hag comments after Manchester United draw at Brentford are causing serious concern for fans

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Single-minded determination can be an admirable quality in pursuit of success. There is also a thin line between this, and flipping into stubbornness and ignorance.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is at risk of slipping into the latter category after his post-match comments in the wake of the draw at Brentford.

This was a game Manchester United drew 1-1. Having taken the lead in the 96th minute, we should have won it. But anybody watching the whole match would be in agreement that the Red Devils deserved to lose, not draw, let alone win.

Brentford manager Thomas Frank told their club media: “I think this performance was one or two levels higher than the 4-0 win against them,” referring to the awful result last season.

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Brentford FC v Manchester United - Premier League

Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Manchester United shots conceded

Manchester United only conceded one goal, this came courtesy of wasteful Brentford finishing and poor luck, hitting the woodwork numerous times. Goalkeeper Andre Onana was excellent, praised on MUTV and also Ten Hag.

United allowed Brentford too many scoring chances, a staggering 31 in total.

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The graph below per SofaScore highlights the attacking momentum during the game, which was severely tilted in Brentford’s favour.

If only we could seclude this to one game and dismiss it as an aberration. Unfortunately this is a common theme of Manchester United games in 2023/24 under Erik ten Hag.

Per WhoScored.com, Manchester United have faced the third highest number of shots per game in Europe’s top five leagues this season.

  • Sheffield United: 18.2
  • Luton Town: 17.3
  • Manchester United: 17.2
  • Borussia Moenchengladbach: 17
  • Darmstadt: 16.9

These statistics are not good for United, who are keeping poor company. Sheffield United and Luton are battling relegation from the Premier League, while Darmstadt are rock bottom of the Bundesliga and ‘Gladbach only three points above the relegation zone.

Manchester United are supposed to be a contender at the top end of the table. And with these figures, it is somewhat impressive that the team are as high as sixth in the Premier League.

Until the number of shots conceded starts being reduced, United don’t have a chance of climbing much higher, let alone challenging for the title.

The alarming performance against Brentford has been a common theme for United this season, irrespective of who starts in midfield or attack. This suggests it is Erik ten Hag’s tactical approach which needs to be fixed.

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Erik ten Hag does not appear to be taking situation seriously

What you would want to hear after this performance is some kind of connection with the manager, reflecting the concerns of fans.

Instead, Erik ten Hag’s post-match comments have served to cause more alarm, where he does not appear to be taking the situation seriously.

Speaking via club media, he said: “As long as we get results, no [it is not a problem]. I explained it once more. We defended low at times and, as I said, because Brentford are very direct we lost many second balls.

“You have to defend the box and that was what we did quite well. We had a great goalkeeper, he was brilliant tonight, we have to say that. I think our results are quite consistent from January on. We concede shots but we don’t concede so many goals.”

Ten Hag also went on to talk up Brentford’s performances against City, commenting: “Don’t lower the performances from Brentford because I have seen them against Man City and City were also lucky to win that game.”

Yet these comments do not really stack up. City’s 1-0 win over Brentford last month saw Pep Guardiola’s side dominate possession with 70 per cent, and 25 shots to Brentford’s six.

In their 3-1 win away at Brentford earlier in the season, City had 72 per cent possession, and 25 shots to Brentford’s nine.

United might have edged possession 53 per cent on Saturday, but had only 11 shots to Brentford’s 31. There is no comparison between the City matches, and Ten Hag’s comments are a deflection which simply do not work.

Instead, it reflects a manager and coaching staff who is not taking seriously enough his team’s deficiencies, and perhaps his own.

Big performances are required against Chelsea and Liverpool later this week. If United play like they did against Brentford, prospects of wins look bleak.

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