Manchester United rounded off what has probably been their worst ever Premier League season by losing 1-0 away to Crystal Palace, a game that in so many ways summed up the season, and the position the club is currently in.
New boss Erik Ten Hag was in the stands today, but this didn’t seem to get anything out of the players on the pitch. Ten Hag will already have an idea of the things that need to be changed, and what he saw today will have only further confirmed this. With that being said, here’s three talking points from this fixture.
Manchester United’s technical level is far too low
That first half was one of the worst halves I’ve seen from United, and Bruno Fernandes‘ assist for Wilfried Zaha was only a small fraction of it. United struggled to even put three passes together in what was an embarrassing display of the team’s technical ability — or lack of, rather. Erik Ten Hag, who takes over from now, looked visibly unimpressed in the stands.
The second half was a slight improvement, but still rife with errors. At full time just one of the starting outfielders, Swedish centre back Victor Lindelöf, had maintained a passing accuracy greater than 90 per cent.
Ten Hag’s teams are known for their possession dominant style of play, and this requires a far higher level of technical quality than both what United had on show today and the general technical level of the squad as a whole. Major changes are needed.
United’s midfield were bullied today by Conor Gallagher and have been bullied by multiple teams who are weaker sides on paper all season. When you look at the world’s very best teams, such as rivals Liverpool and Manchester City, their players are far more reliable technically. United need a lot of new players who will raise the levels technically, and any of the current players who will be here in the long-term will need to improve significantly if they want to remain at the club.
Hannibal has a lot of fight, but needs to manage it better
Hannibal Mejbri is one of if not the most promising player in United’s academy right now. The Tunisian starlet undoubtedly has a really bright future ahead of him, but he needs to learn to manage his aggression better.
Hannibal has brought a lot of fight and tenacity to this team, something which has been really refreshing to see given how big an issue work rate has been for United since Jose Mourinho was in charge, but he’s shown that he can too easily lose his temper. There have been many incidents in the Under-23s and a problem with Zaha today which resulted in a yellow card for the youngster. He definitely has a part to play in the first team next season, but him and Ten Hag will need to work together to teach him to channel his tenacity in a more productive way.
Nobody deserves to be undroppable, not even Bruno
Everton may have lost 5-1 to Arsenal, but the positive for United is that the one goal came from loanee Donny van de Beek, who has struggled with injury since his January loan to Merseyside. cleverly ghosting his way into the six-yard box for an easy finish.
Meanwhile on the other side of London, Bruno Fernandes had one of his worst games in a Manchester United shirt, which is something we’ve had to say far too frequently this season. Bruno is seen as most by United’s talisman, and whilst he is an absolutely excellent footballer, he has too many games like today in which he was extremely sloppy with the ball and without creating any chances, which is usually the justification for his possession losses. This is what holds him back from truly being world class.
With Donny being a player Ten Hag worked with at Ajax, and one that he is very fond of, It is important that next season they compete with each other more closely for the number ten position in our team. Whilst both play this role differently, it is important that everyone is kept on their toes.
If we look at Sir Alex Ferguson‘s greatest teams, and just in general at the best teams football has seen, no individual comes before the team. All of these sides had depth and players competed with each other for their spots, which were awarded on merit. If United are to get back to their very best, then this needs to happen. I am not saying to start Donny over Bruno necessarily, but there must be competition in that position as it is an extremely important one, and the case must be the same in every other position.