Manchester United’s struggles continue and we’ve priced them up at 8/13 to finish seventh or lower in the Premier League this season.
|Man Utd to finish 1st||100/1|
|Man Utd to finish 2nd||20/1|
|Man Utd to finish 3rd||12/1|
|Man Utd to finish 4th||7/1|
|Man Utd to finish 5th||13/2|
|Man Utd to finish 6th||6/1|
|Man Utd to finish 7th||8/13|
On the opening game of Erik ten Hag’s tenure at Old Trafford, the Red Devils suffered a humbling 2-1 defeat to Brighton.
They then proceeded to turn Old Trafford into something of a fortress, going 19 league games unbeaten at home… Then they ran into Brighton again.
A 3-1 loss to the Seagulls was followed by a 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace and the club appears to be in crisis mode.
There’s enormous strife on and off the field and it’s hard to know how the corner will be turned for Ten Hag.
Marcus Rashford looks like a different player to the one who scored 30 goals last season, Jadon Sancho is persona non grata, their entire back four has already spent time in the physio room, with half of them likely out until Christmas, and new goalkeeper Andre Onana looks worse than much-maligned David de Gea.
There’s little to be optimistic about at Old Trafford right now, and though they’re odds-on at 4/6 to beat Brentford at the weekend, who would be surprised to see the Bees leave with all three points?
If Ten Hag is looking for excuses, he could cite United’s extensive injury list, and while he’s not far off his strongest XI, the decision to play new midfielder Sofyan Amrabat at left-back seems to be harming the rest of the team.
Amrabat was signed to support Casemiro in midfield which, in theory, gives the likes of Rashford, Mason Mount and Bruno Fernandes more attacking freedom. In reality, United still have a hole in midfield and have regressed significantly going forward.
They rank 11th in the league in xG – lower than both Brentford and even Everton, while nobody in the squad has scored more than one non-penalty goal.
The long-term injuries to Luke Shaw and Lisandro Martinez will mean that United’s strongest back line for the foreseeable future will be Reguilon-Lindelof-Varane-Wan-Bissaka, and two of them will be absent for the game against Brentford.
The biggest concern for Ten Hag won’t be that his side are dropping points in games they should win, but that they’re hardly laying a glove on the opposition. Crystal Palace had little trouble in keeping them at bay last weekend; Brighton toyed with them; Arsenal largely kept them at bay at the Emirates and they struggled to break Tottenham down. They were also extremely fortunate to leave Old Trafford with three points against Wolves.
Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool all remain a level above Manchester United, and the latter of the three are still going through a big transition of their own. Tottenham have started the season like a house on fire; Newcastle, too, look to be growing into the campaign. Then there’s Brighton and Aston Villa who’ve started well and will threaten for Europe, and Chelsea will likely come good at some point.
An extra Champions League place will likely be on offer this season in the Premier League and the way they’re going, Manchester United will desperately need it.