Manchester United: Erik ten Hag must abandon this failed tactical switch

Manchester United's Dutch manager Erik ten Hag (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Manchester United's Dutch manager Erik ten Hag (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images) /

After another abject disjointed performance, there is pressure growing on the Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag. Although he is just over a year into the job, a poor start to the season for Manchester United has raised severe questions about the team and what they are capable of doing.

One tactical switch that has been evident over the past few games and was frankly baffling against a Crystal Palace side away from home needs to be dropped.

Inverted fullbacks is not working at Manchester United

Erik ten Hag probably has enough credit in the bank to help him through a stick period for Manchester United but he cannot afford for his players to put in another bleak performance like they did against Crystal Palace.

With a side like Palace happy to come to Old Trafford and soak up pressure, their job was made easier with the lack of invention of width amongst the Manchester United players. With Diogo Dalot playing more as a centre-attacking midfielder than a full-back, Facundo Pellestri had no support as he looked to the byline. The same could be said on the left-hand side with Marcus Rashford, who is certainly a shadow of his last season’s self, was waiting for the overlap just like Luke Shaw does but it never arrived.

Admittedly the left-back situation has been hampered by injuries and new signing Sofyan Amrabat was employed in the full-back role where he did not look comfortable. He had much more joy when he did drift into the middle but the left-back role was exposed and no option was available out wide.

Affect on the rest of the team

With the fullbacks pushing inside, it cramped the play and Palace were happy to watch United to pass from side to side without any real idea or conviction. Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane were passing between themselves and not bringing the ball out of defence which slowed down any momentum United could have caused.

The centre of the park became busier than Market Street in Manchester but with nobody wanting the ball it was a redundant method. In a game where someone needed to take it by the scruff of the neck, no senior Manchester United player was willing to do so.

Lacking energy

It was a pedestrian performance and one where no player wanted to make a mistake, hence why Lindelof and Varane were happy to play it side to side like a game of table football. The game was missing energy and it was evident that a player like Hannibal Mejbri would have made a lot of difference as he would have harassed the Palace back line.

Even Harry Maguire, when he came on, looked like he wanted to be on the ball and move it about to try and stretch the Palace defence.

It was another bad day for United and one that needs to be rectified against Brentford in the league next Saturday before they lose any more ground.