Erik ten Hag faces a crucial week in his battle to turn around Manchester United’s dismal start to the new season and amid growing calls for the Dutchman to be sacked.
Fans discontentment reached new heights over the weekend after an alarming 1-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace condemned United to a fifth defeat of the season already to compound what has been their worst start to a season in 34 years. With United down in 10th place, they are nearer the bottom three than they are the top of the table, having already been ruled out the title race by Robbie Savage.
In the wake of Saturday’s loss to Crystal Palace, #TenHagOut began trending on social media with supporters outraged by not just the result at Old Trafford but also by their inept performance.
Manchester United were limited to just four shots on target by the Eagles with the ease of their win of particular concern to those associated with the club.
And while there has been no noises over his dismissal coming from those who hold power at United, it is reported that results and performances are coming under additional scrutiny in the wake of their worrying start to the season.
The Red Devils now face a crucial week, kicking off with a must-win Champions League clash against Galatasaray at Old Trafford on Tuesday night, followed by a home Premier League clash against Brentford.
Defeat in both games will pile the pressure on the under-fire Dutchman, who will need to get a quick response from his struggling players.
Truth be told, however, that despite spending around £175m on new players over the summer, United’s squad still looks desperately short of the quality required.
Erik ten Hag sack calls gather pace as Man Utd issues stack up
Last season’s star man, Marcus Rashford, is struggling for his best form; his substitution on Saturday nonetheless not going down well with supporters.
Big summer signing in goal, Andre Onana, has so far kept three clean sheets, but has conceded a worrying 15 goals in their nine matches so far.
But his struggles are far from isolated with another costly signing Mason Mount having an injury-snapped start to his United career, while off-field issues around both Jadon Sancho and Antony are well documented.
However, it is perhaps the news over the weekend that talismanic defender Lisandro Martinez faces two more months on the sidelines with a recurrence of a metatarsal injury, which once again requires surgery.
His absence comes as a huge blow for Ten Hag, with Paul Scholes explaining last season why United struggle when he’s taken out of their backline.
“Having a solid back four now is helping them,” he said. “Martinez coming out of that might be a worry going forward.”
Those feelings were echoed by Rio Ferdinand, who told his Vibe with Five YouTube channel that the Argentine was the best defender in the Premier League.
“On form right now, I don’t think there’s really much argument coming from anywhere else. I think he’s dominant, he’s aggressive, he’s a leader, he communicates well, he shows character, he’s there in big moments,” Ferdinand said.
Piers Morgan rubs salt into Ten Hag wounds
Ten Hag was also quick to explain why Martinez’s form has been so disappointing this season, explaining he was trying to play through injury.
“That’s very sad (news of the operation), for him and the team, because he was not 100 per cent fit. I think it was a big difference the Licha Martinez in the last games and the Licha Martinez we have seen in the first season here.”
With Ten Hag now facing what looks a pivotal five-day spell, one of his biggest detractors in Piers Morgan could not resist rubbing salt into his wounds in the wake of Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the Eagles.
Morgan, an Arsenal fan, was a major factor in the row that resulted in Cristiano Ronaldo having his contract torn up by United last November, airing an interview with him in which the Portuguese superstar torched the Glazers, Ten Hag and many other issues at Manchester United.
Morgan has never hidden from the fact at where his loyalties lie in the row, often making a big show on social media of his friendship with the Al-Nassr forward.
In response to Saturday’s defeat to Palace, Morgan was quickly posting on his X account with a picture of Ronaldo sat on the United bench next to Ten Hag. He captioned it: ‘One of these men was driven out of United because he was deemed ‘the problem’ at the club.
‘Painfully obvious who the real problem was/is. Clue: it wasn’t @Cristiano.’
Following games against Galatasaray and Brentford, United then face a trip to struggling Sheffield United, and another UCL date, this time away at FC Copenhagen, before a crunch Premier League clash with reigning champions Manchester City on October 29.