Manchester United’s season is in danger of imploding on Erik ten Hag after back-to-back defeats to Brighton & Hove Albion and West Ham in the space of three days.
The Red Devils rocked up at London Stadium with Alexis Mac Allister’s 99th minute penalty still reverberating around their lugholes, but they could do nothing to pull themselves from their losing stupor because of a horrendous mistake from David de Gea.
In truth, things could actually have been worse for United, who after a bright 27 minutes shrunk into their shell and looked a million miles away from being a side ready to compete in the Champions League.
The margin of victory for West Ham might have been greater had Victor Lindelof’s obvious handball been, well, obvious to the officials – somehow they turned a blind eye to the Swede’s offence and a VAR review was not even called for.
The worrying thing for Ten Hag is that United’s intensity dropped off the face of the earth after going a goal behind. They looked leggy, they looked out of ideas and they were comprehensively outfought by West Ham, who simply wanted it more than they did.
That’s a criticism that has been levelled at United a number of times this season and is bound to be brought up again now that they’ve lost eight Premier League games on the road.
Here’s who 90min picked out as their best and worst performers overall, courtesy of a comprehensive and completely accurate set of match ratings.
Antony – 6/10
Antony’s first season in English football has divided opinion. He cost a boatload of money so you expect a boat load in return, right? Well, that’s possibly a fair assessment in some ways, but doesn’t really factor in the need to acclimatise to a completely different standard of league and the fact that United are very much a team in transition.
Sure, they’ve tasted Carabao Cup success already and are through to the FA Cup final, but there’s undoubtedly work to do.
Here, Antony could easily have had a couple of goals and was a real threat on the right side. He shaved the post with a fizzing effort before striking the base of it later in the first half, and generally looked like United’s most capable player.
The energy sapped out of his legs as United started to struggle but he can be pleased with his individual contribution.
Marcus Rashford – 6/10
It wasn’t Marcus Rashford’s day in the sense of he didn’t score a goal, but that’s not to say that United’s leading light didn’t have his moments.
Rashford’s runs were clever, as usual, and he linked up nicely with Wout Weghorst and Bruno Fernandes in the early exchanges. The palms of Lukasz Fabianski were stung late on as the 25-year-old looked to galvanise a response for United, though his endeavours were ultimately futile.
Not a bad showing from Rashford and he absolutely wasn’t the problem here, as at least you could see his desire to get United back on level terms.
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David de Gea – 2/10
Firstly, if you’ve not seen the mistake David de Gea made to gift West Ham three points, watch it now.
It’s probably then time to discuss whether or not handing De Gea a new long-term contract is really the right thing for United to be doing. The Spaniard’s reputation is built around being a brilliant shot-stopper, but you can’t deny that his match-winning performances have been interspersed with some absolute toilet.
Here, De Gea offered up the kind of toilet performance that makes supporters want Ten Hag to go out and buy another goalkeeper – he said, for the record, in his post-match press conference that he had “no concerns” and that the club “wanting to offer him a new contract” should say everything about the future.
Simply put, Said Benrahma’s shot should never have been allowed to go in. De Gea then complemented that mistake with a couple of other glaring errors with his feet and although that’s not shot-stopping, granted, in the modern game an essential part of a top goalkeeper’s game is his ability to play out from the back.
De Gea just doesn’t get it and doesn’t seem to be learning – that’s hugely worrying.
Casemiro – 3/10
In important games, particularly when you play for a club like Manchester United, you need your big players to stand up and be counted.
Casemiro is as big as they come in terms of reputation, with the defensive midfielder widely credited with pulling together a midfield that had been relying on ‘McFred’ for goodness knows how long. But just when Ten Hag needed his midfield general to put Declan Rice, Lucas Paqueta and Tomas Soucek in their places, the 31-year-old went missing.
United lost control, needlessly, and having created and fluffed a number of chances, shrunk into their shell. Casemiro shrunk into his shell, surprisingly, and the game slipped away against a side fighting for their Premier League lives.
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