Manchester United fans are angry and confused – and they’re right to be

Manchester United is a football club full of chaos, curses and conflict. Erik ten Hag’s side are out of form, lacking confidence and lacking ideas. Players and staff are demoralized. The results were almost as bad as the injured list.

Fans have been hoping for better all season long. Instead, things got worse.

It is unacceptable that a team that would have been considered a failure if they failed to qualify for next season’s Champions League now look in serious danger of missing out on any European competition.

United are eighth in the Premier League with two wins in 10 league games. 3, or Casemiro’s decline would be even worse. The Brazilian averaged 1.44 successful interceptions per game last season; this term, that number has shrunk to 0.84. He lost 1.86 challenges per game last term and 2.73 this year.

Do you still want? He was denied possession of the ball 0.59 times per game last season and 0.79 this season, and he won possession back 4.61 times in 2022-23 compared to 2.52 in 2023-24. That’s one of the reasons you see holes as wide as the Amazon in United’s midfield. That’s the river, not a broadcaster next week releasing a film celebrating the 1999 Triple Crown.

Casemiro has become a shadow of his former self (Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images)

It feels much better to be obsessed with history than to be involved in what’s about to happen at United, at least in the short term. The final three league games will be against Arsenal and Newcastle United at Old Trafford before an away game against Brighton a week before the FA Cup final against Manchester City. Ominously, United have lost every one of their six games against these opponents in league and cup this season.

It was a sobering moment at the end of a lackluster season that fell well short of expectations and left fans in disbelief at what they were seeing. Yet they still travel, filling every away corner with songs of support and defiance, as they did on Monday at the shallow rake of Arthur’s bench at Selhurst Park. They filled Old Trafford to capacity despite knowing that the team at the bottom of the table might have more possession and more chances than the team that found a bag of unused lottery tickets.

Ten Hag gave a good interview and there are still plenty of fans – myself included – who want him to succeed at Old Trafford and get the chance to be part of the new structure. But it becomes more difficult when you look at his teams. Few were surprised that Crystal Palace beat Manchester United for the second time this season. That was in September, but not now – both impressive given Crystal Palace’s recent form, and the fact that a lad named Adam Walton was born 20 miles outside Manchester.

The same was true the last time United visited London for a league game. Then, during a game against Chelsea in March, childhood United fan Cole Palmer from Wythenshawe, Manchester, stole the show. They lost that too. Manchester United played 7 league games in London this season and achieved 1 win, 1 draw and 5 losses. There are plenty of dire statistics to apply to this season, and Monday’s game at Selhurst only added insult to injury.

Two of last month’s best players, Bruno Fernandes and Harry Maguire, were injured before the game and the situation on Monday looked grim even before the game.

But 4-0? Crystal Palace has not beaten any team by four goals all season. It’s a frustrating, can’t wait for the season to end, much like Ralf Rangnick’s final game at Crystal Palace two years ago. Ten Hag was also there that day, the latest of the well-respected coaches to be ready to ride United’s bronco, having impressed on his first ride last season. The second time, he was tossed around and now looked in serious danger of falling.

Erik ten Hag stands at Selhurst Park in 2022, Ralf Rangnick’s last game in charge (Justin Tallis Tallis )/AFP, Getty Images)

It’s too hard. With Ineos taking control, change is welcomed by most fans who are tired of life under the Glazers and the lack of results that comes with it, but with it comes uncertainty. Some coaches around Ten Witches don’t know if they will have jobs when their contracts expire at the end of next month. They won’t get the huge payout the Ten Witches expect.

Some non-football staff are annoyed at the scrapping of traditional privileges in the name of efficiency and a better culture. It won’t win sympathy from fans, but staff being able to take their partners on a paid trip to watch the FA Cup final is seen as a reward for a season of hard work, and often a horrifically anti-social hour – It shows that you are proud to work for one of the greatest clubs in the world.

Ineos should also bring improvements. It wants to appoint what they call “best-in-class” operators, and fans are backing this after what seemed like the second-best approach for so long. Football will come first, but leaders don’t always ignore the latest hit on the pitch in staff meetings to reassure staff that business is alive and well.

Nearly all of Ineos’ key executives have left, with one notable exception… the manager. Despite this season’s results being higher than the team’s current results, previous United managers have been sacked, with Ten Hag averaging 1.54 points per game, down from 1.97 points per game last season.

How Manchester United managers compare

Manager and PPG Season 1 Season 2 Season 3 Season 4

david moyes


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Louis van Gaal



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Jose Mourinho




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Eric ten Hager



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Oddly, the response to the recession feels different now than it did for all these managers. David Moyes has played 34 games this season, one fewer than Ten Hague is now, when he lost his job after it became clear United were unable to qualify for the Champions League, which is the minimum requirement. In February 2016, everyone knew Van Gaal was leaving, and he left after winning the FA Cup in May that year. Mourinho himself said he should lose his job and Solskjaer’s decline cannot be stopped when he feels some players no longer play for him.

Ten witches are different. He wanted to stay and believed he would do the right thing. Amid the criticism, he offered serious relief: he played against Crystal Palace alongside fifth and eighth-choice centre-backs. Jonny Evans has done more than anyone expected this season, having only trained for two days after five weeks on the sidelines, against a fast, powerful and direct Crystal Palace side. Evans could have made excuses. Instead, he made his own demands.

There wasn’t much of a Plan B: he had five academy players and two goalkeepers on his bench. The sound you hear is the sound of the barrel being scratched week after week.

The case of Ten Witches is different for several reasons. People are weary of the prospect of more managerial changes, with the realization that it may not be as much the responsibility of the manager as the structure of the club is. He also performed well in his first season, winning his first trophy since 2017 and beating his main rivals. Two Europa League games against Barcelona showed how good his teams are.

It’s hard to excite fans with names being linked with possible replacements, and this season it’s acknowledged he hasn’t had it easy, especially amid injuries and a year-long strategy review that has led to some Players approached him and asked what was going on.

He inherits some serious issues, such as the situation with Mason Greenwood, who has been given mixed messages by Cristiano Ronaldo about whether he wants to stay and has given up on captain Harry Maguire. He handles every situation wisely.

Like anyone, he made mistakes. The better Jadon Sancho performs for Borussia Dortmund, the more Manchester United fans wonder why he can’t do the same in a red jersey of Manchester United, and some of that is starting to reflect poorly on the manager. Ten Hag is adamant that he provides as much support as possible to his players, and some of his staff say privately that he exceeds coaching expectations in building personal relationships with players.

Ten witches might be more attractive. It’s a shame he’s not, because he has a great personality and a great sense of humor – but when are we to judge him? At the press conference, when he tried to strike up a conversation? After a bad game? In those moments, he could barely tell a great anecdote.

He is also very stubborn. He has his own ideas about how the team should play and will do everything he can to push that forward, but it’s difficult now and fans are absolutely entitled to debate whether he’s right for the club. A close friend of mine gave up on him a few months ago and said he would love to ride back to the Netherlands with him. It would be nice if Ten Hag had time to go back on his own… Instead, he’s trying to make United better amid the club’s worst injury crisis in the modern era. What can a coach do?

United will end the season with their lowest points total since the 1989-90 season. That season, the team did not win a league match away from Luton on November 18th until an away game against Millwall on February 10th. He survived, and so can the Ten Witches. I don’t think any clear decision was made on him, like there was on Van Gaal, Moyes or Mourinho, weeks or months before they left.

How does Manchester United get out of trouble?

There are no easy answers. Getting players back as quickly as possible will help, with some planning to return before the FA Cup final. The changes initiated by Ineos should also start to have an impact, but fans can be forgiven for being a bit skeptical about it all.

They’ve been living like this for more than a decade, and they’re tired of it — and tired of seeing competitors do it where it matters most: on the court.

(Top photo: Alex Pantlin/Getty Images)

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