Erik Ten Hag, Manchester United
Via @OptaJoe on X/Twitter - Manchester United's manager Erik Ten Hag during his team's 3-3 draw vs Galatasaray Via @OptaJoe on X/Twitter

After holding a 2-goal lead -twice- during a must-win game away from home in the UEFA Champions League, Erik Ten Hag's Manchester United found a way to make their chances to advance to the knockout stages even more difficult following a 3-3 tie to Galatasaray in Istanbul. The club's harsh reality seems to have hit a new rock-bottom, continuing in a sort of vicious cycle of self-implosion.

Man United will need to beat Bayern Munich in the last matchday of the UCL Group Stages if they hold any hopes of advancing to the R-16.

Here are 5 points that showcase how this could be Manchester United's worst start to a season in almost 50 years:

Defensively Weak

One of the trends we have seen from Erik Ten Hag's team this season is their defensive vulnerability. Somehow, their record in this end of the field has gotten worse even after investing in new players during the Summer. According to Opta, Manchester United has conceded a total of 33 goals in their first 20 games across all competitions this season. It is the highest figure in their opening 20 games in 50 years. (conceded 43 goals in 1962-63, nearly avoiding relegation).

The team has conceded 3+ goals in 8 of their 20 games played in all competitions this season

Shakey Goalkeeper

André Onana's stint has had a rough start and certainly has contributed to Man United's struggles this season. Even though he is currently tied for the most clean sheets in the Premier League this season (5) he has been the focal point of his team's debacles, especially in the UEFA Champions League. His save percentage drops from 76% in league play to just 56% in UCL play.

In the 3-3 draw against Galatasaray, his error leading to Galatasaray's first goal changed the dynamic of the game, putting Manchester United in an uncomfortable position, one in which they don't thrive.

This year, they have only won 2 of their 7 Premier League games in which they conceded the first goal (2-5-0 W-L-D).

Takes time to adjust to Old Trafford

For a second straight transfer window under manager Erik Ten Hag, Man United's expenditure surpassed €200 million, according to numbers from Even though there was big money spent on the squad, the new signings have had minimal impact so far. Marquee signing Mason Mount, purchased from Chelsea for €64 million, has only played about 33% of the team's total minutes this season.

Rasmus Højlund has also struggled to find the form he showed during his spell at Atalanta that granted the €75million price tag paid for Man United. In 16 games played across all competitions, his 5 goals are tied for most among the team, although he accumulates 0 goals in 651 minutes played in the Premier League.

Galatasaray and Manchester United played out a thrilling 3-3 draw
Galatasaray and Manchester United played out a thrilling 3-3 draw that leaves the English side on the verge of going out of the Champions League. AFP


Manchester United's biggest issue since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club in 2013 has been consistency. What was supposed to be an improvement on last year's results has been completely erased 20 games into the current season.

One of the advantages that Ten Hag's team had last season was the ability to get results at home: the Red Devils lost just two of their games played at Old Trafford (27-2-4 W-L-D). This year, 20 games into the season, they already lost 5 of their home games in all competitions (6-5-0 W-L-D).

Another aspect in which they seemed to have regressed is their "big game" performances. Last year, only Arsenal (19) and Manchester City (21) earned more points against the PL's "Big 6" than Ten Hag's team (17 points, 5-3-2 W-L-D). This season though, they have lost all 3 of their games against such opposition.

No European competition

Despite being initially deemed an accessible group, this year's UEFA Champions League campaign has been a total nightmare for Manchester United, currently bottom of Group A with only 4 points. After yet another disastrous result in Europe, Ten Hag's team is now dependent on other teams. In order to advance, they would need to beat Bayern Munich and hope Galatasaray and Copenhagen draw.

If they fail to advance, it would be the 4th time Man United gets knocked-out of the UCL Group Stages, two of previous three occasions have happened since 2015-16.

Their away form has put them in a very difficult situation. Even though they scored 3+ goals in each of their games on the road, they have collected a total of 1 point from those games (0-2-1 W-L-D).

According to Opta, they have also set a record for most goals conceded by an English club in a single UCL Group Stage (14). Failing to advance to the UCL R-16 would not only mean a catastrophe on the sporting side of things, but it would also put the club in a more tight situation economically, missing out on the big prize money that European competitions offer.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.