Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ten Hag sleepwalking into gifting Chelsea top-four finish and urged to ‘give up’ lost Man Utd cause

Erik ten Hag, September 2022

Erik ten Hag needs to stop trying to get his Manchester United team to play out from the back because it will cost them dearly, says Frank Leboeuf.

United recovered from a 6-3 setback against Manchester City to beat Everton 2-1 away from home on Sunday. The result was also a pertinent one given the Toffees had the Premier League’s best defensive record before the match.

The win over Everton made it five wins in the last six league matches for Man Utd. Against Man City, there was debate about manager Ten Hag’s style.

Indeed, Gary Neville warned that while playing direct and utilising the likes of Marcus Rashford and his pace would work for the time being, his former club need to learn to play effectively with more possession to truly progress.

The flipside of Man Utd’s tried and trusted method this term is having more possession at the back. According to Leboeuf, though, United are not ready to play that way.

The Frenchman added that it will cost the Red Devils a top-four finish behind Chelsea.

“Right now I think Chelsea have more chances and it’s not because they are my former club,” Leboeuf told ESPN FC.

“United again there’s too many issues with their football and the issue they have [to reach top four].

“They tried to play from the back [against Everton] and starting from the back, trying to play nicely and they are not ready for that. Ten Hag has to give up that way of playing.”

Man Utd showing strong team balance

United have faced questions over the impact senior players are having – or not having – this season.

Summer signing Casemiro, who cost £70million from Real Madrid, has struggled for game time. And Cristiano Ronaldo in the same boat after he failed to get a move away this summer.

Nevertheless, the pair combined for the latter to score the winner against Everton before half time.

Elsewhere, £84million summer signing Antony netted United’s first goal after Alex Iwobi opened the scoring.

The overall display from Ten Hag’s side is a sign they have a good blend of youth and experience across the ranks.

While Antony has now scored three goals for United since signing, Ronaldo’s strike was the 700th of his career.

Alongside Casemiro, Christian Eriksen offered further balance to the midfield, with Bruno Fernandes playing further forward.

There is also the case for Marcus Rashford, who had a goal disallowed which would have further cemented his recent upturn in form.

Man Utd return to action on Thursday against Omonia in the Europa League, before playing Newcastle at Old Trafford.