Man Utd have now suffered their worst start to a season in the Premier League era, finishing the weekend 10th. It could get worse yet for Erik ten Hag, as a win for either side of Fulham vs Chelsea on Monday night could see them fall to 11th.
It is their worst start to a season since 1989/90.
Man Utd Record Worst Start to Season in Premier League Era
Erik ten Hag’s Side Fall to 11th After 1-0 Loss to Crystal Palace
Roy Hodgson’s side secured a hard-fought victory at Old Trafford, as Joachim Anderson’s marvellous volley helped Crystal Palace to three points. The Eagles are now unbeaten in five Premier League visits to United’s home ground.
Watch: What Manchester United Need to Learn from Brighton’s Success
In stark contrast, Erik ten Hag now boasts a record he would rather have avoided. After seven games, the Red Devils have won three games and lost four, their worst start to a season in the modern era.
Despite an ever-growing injury crisis that has left his side without vital players such as Lisandro Martinez and Sergio Reguilon, who himself is a stand-in for the injured Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia, the Dutch Manager has told the BBC that there are “no excuses” for their poor start.
He went on to tell the media that he “understands” fans’ frustrations after his side was booed off the pitch following their second home defeat in a row.
Man Utd’s Chance Creation Problems Adds to Concerns
While last season was much more positive for United, who appeared to be on an upward trajectory, there were hints of problems to come. Despite finishing in the top four, the Reds only scored 58 goals across their 38 league games, a rate of 1.52 per game.
So far this season, Ten Hag’s side have only managed seven goals in their opening seven games. Their inability to create chances consistently has seen them struggle to put games to bed or to launch comebacks against tougher opposition. They are yet to win a game by more than one goal.
According to Understat’s modelling, United have created 11.53 expected goals (xG) so far this season (only the 12th highest in the Premier League) and have scored only seven from those chances.
Their inability to put games beyond reach, as seen against Wolves and Burnley, also hurts them defensively. Sides that should find themselves discouraged and disheartened from hopes of an equaliser are kept in the tie and grow in confidence.
Along with injuries to key defensive personnel, this has resulted in the club conceding 11.2 expected goals against (xGA), only narrowly better than relegation strugglers Everton (11.7 xGA).
While they did register 19 shots at Old Trafford on Saturday, few could be described as clear-cut chances, as they recorded 1.55 xG to their South London opponent’s 1.19 xG.
Marcus Rashford’s Tough Start Continues
In the 2022/23 season, Marcus Rashford was undoubtedly a consistent hero for the club, scoring 17 goals and providing five assists in 35 appearances, predominantly from the left wing.
However, he has struggled in the early part of his campaign, with one goal and one assist in seven starts. His performance against Crystal Palace was another difficult watch, as he was ineffective against Joel Ward and Cheick Doucoure, who regularly stopped him from dangerous positions in and around the box.
While Rasmus Hojlund has shown promise since signing from Atalanta this summer, he will ultimately be reliant on a supply from key creators like Rashford and Bruno Fernandes, who have both underperformed so far.
If Ten Hag can foster some chemistry between his forward line, he may be able to pick up results and turn his focus to defensive issues.
Man Utd Avoid Bottom Half- For Now
With Nottingham Forest and Brentford drawing 1-1 at the City Ground, Manchester United have narrowly avoided falling into the bottom half of the table for the weekend, perhaps providing some small relief to their head coach.
However, with a West London derby yet to come between Chelsea and Fulham, three points for either side would see the Red Devils plummet to 11th.
The Red Devils travel to Brentford next weekend, hoping to avoid the embarrassment they were subjected to in a crushing 4-0 defeat early in the 2022/23 season.