Rashford Sent Off After Getting Two Yellow, Ten Hag and Man United Getting Worst and Worst Loss An Easy Game Against Copenhagen:
Playing at Parken Stadium in Denmark, United burst out to a stunning 2-0 lead within the first 10 minutes through early goals from Marcus Rashford and Antony. But Rashford’s red card in the 30th minute for a challenge on Elias Jelert completely changed the trajectory of the match.
Ten Hag felt the decision by referee Donatas Rumsas to send off Rashford after video review was excessively harsh, arguing that freezing the action makes tackles appear worse than they are in real time. He also claimed Copenhagen’s first two goals in response should not have counted.
The first came via Mohamed Elyounoussi in the 58th minute, who Ten Hag said was in an offside position that impacted goalkeeper André Onana’s line of sight. The second was a penalty kick awarded to Copenhagen after a disputed handball call against defender Harry Maguire.
Despite Bruno Fernandes converting a penalty in the 70th minute to put United back in front 3-2, Copenhagen continued to press. Lukas Lerager equalized in the 83rd minute, and Rooony Bardghji scored the winner in added time to complete a dramatic comeback victory in front of a raucous home crowd.
Ten Hag maintained confidence that his squad will turn their European fortunes around, praising their resilience. But the loss puts United in a precarious position as they next face Luton Town on Saturday in the FA Cup before hosting Bayern in the group finale.
Overall it was a wild match that saw the pendulum swing multiple times, only for Copenhagen to ultimately come out on top after a series of officiating decisions Ten Hag felt majorly disrupted the game flow and enabled the Danish side’s comeback.
Arsenal 2️⃣-0️⃣ Sevilla
Copenhagen4️⃣-3️⃣ Man United
The Gunners sit at the top in Group B
Man United sit rock-bottom in Group A pic.twitter.com/Xd6l5y66DG
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) November 8, 2023
The match comes during a difficult start to Ten Hag’s first season in charge of United. Through 12 Premier League matches, United have registered just 5 wins and sit in 5th place with 23 points. Their lackluster league form has led some to call this the club’s worst start to a season in over 30 years.
Ten Hag was brought in this summer to revive the storied club after a disastrous 2021-22 campaign under interim manager Ralf Rangnick. But thus far, he has struggled to build consistency as United rebuilt their squad over the summer transfer window.
There were high hopes that Ten Hag could quickly implement his high-pressing, possession-based style honed at Ajax. But injuries and lack of cohesion have hampered United’s efforts out of the gates. They’ve looked out of sync in attack and prone to defensive lapses.
Ten Hag said in interview one of the goal was offside and can be seen clearly in the video.
Ten Hag: “You can see that there’s a player in front of Onana in an offside position on Copenhagen first goal…”.
“Not only tonight. We have to deal with many decisions against us in other games”, told TNT. pic.twitter.com/Igk1VBVc74
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) November 8, 2023
The Red Devils spent over €200 million in the summer to bring in the likes of Antony, Casemiro, Lisandro Martinez, and Christian Eriksen. Integrating the new players has taken time, while big money signings from last year like Jadon Sancho and Harry Maguire have underperformed.
Rashford’s red card only compounded United’s misery in Denmark. The homegrown striker had been enjoying a resurgence under Ten Hag, scoring 5 goals across all competitions. But his sending off robbed United of their main attacking threat as they conceded 4 second half goals to throw away an early lead.
There were concerns coming into the season about United’s lack of depth in midfield and attack. That was evident against Copenhagen as the lack of quality options off the bench was apparent after Rashford’s dismissal.
The Champions League loss adds more pressure and scrutiny on Ten Hag as he tries to steer United out of turbulent waters. The club hasn’t won any silverware since 2017 and their fans are hungry for signs of progress.
Man United’s Worst Start of the Season in Over 30 Years
Through 12 Premier League matches so far, United have registered just 5 wins and sit 5th in the table on 23 points. Their lackluster league form has led some to call this United’s worst start in over 30 years.
A variety of factors have contributed to United’s dreadful beginning under new manager Erik ten Hag. Injuries and lack of cohesion have hampered efforts to implement Ten Hag’s aggressive, possession-based tactics. Imbalances persist between attack and defense.
Ten Hag has struggled to integrate a host of new summer signings like Antony, Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez, while big money acquisitions from prior years such as Jadon Sancho and Harry Maguire continue to underperform.
This disconnect and lack of chemistry within the squad has led to poor results. United’s 5 wins are their fewest at this stage of a Premier League season since the 1989-90 campaign.
Their 23 points after 12 matches is the lowest tally since the David Moyes era in 2013-14. The 13 goals scored also represents their worst attacking output through 12 games since that same Moyes season.
Clearly, Ten Hag has been unable to quickly implement his philosophical vision. The lack of balance and mental toughness has culminated in United’s worst league start in over 30 years.
With the club on their fifth permanent manager since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, there is intense scrutiny on Ten Hag to show he can revive their fortunes after prolonged mediocrity. This horrendous start has only increased the pressure.
While it’s still early and Ten Hag deserves time to build his vision, there is an urgency for United to start stringing together consistent performances. Navigating their way out of a difficult Champions League group amid struggles domestically will be a major test in the Dutch manager’s first season.
Onana’s Shaky Start Since his Debut
One of United’s new summer signings enduring a difficult start is goalkeeper Andre Onana. Brought in from Inter Milan, Onana was intended to provide competition for long-time starter David de Gea.
But since making his United debut in September after joining from the Italian club, the Cameroonian has failed to convince between the sticks. There are growing concerns about his lack of command in the penalty area and unreliable hands.
Onana has been at fault for several goals, including against Manchester City when he parried a cross right into the path of Erling Haaland for an easy tap-in. His poor clearance against Omonia Nicosia directly led to their goal as well.
Against Copenhagen, Ten Hag defended Onana’s role in allowing the first goal by Mohamed Elyounoussi. But the keeper appeared indecisive coming off his line, allowing the header at the far post.
These early jitters stand in contrast to Onana’s strong track record at Ajax prior to joining Inter. He thrived playing the ball with his feet in Ajax’s possession-based system. But adapting to a new league and less comfortable in the air, Onana has inspired little confidence since arriving from Italy.
With De Gea’s own struggles, neither keeper has made the case to be United’s unambiguous long-term answer. There are calls for Ten Hag to take another look at promising backup Martin Dubravka once healthy. For Onana to lock down the starting role, he must improve his decision-making and consistency.