Questionable tactics and more – Three things that went horribly wrong for Manchester United against West Ham


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Three things that went wrong for Man United against West Ham

The ship is sinking and it is sinking fast. There seems to be no end to Manchester United’s woes this season as the Red Devils once again slumped to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of West Ham United on Saturday. The humbling at London Stadium marked their third defeat in seven Premier League games, something that should be enough to jeopardize the position of the manager at the club.

The Red Devils seemed to have no answer to West Ham’s compact midfield and their creativity up front created a lot of problems for the porous and vulnerable backline.

Felipe Anderson gave the home side an early lead before Andriy Yarmolenko’s deflected shot wrong-footed David De Gea to make the scoreline 2-0 just before the halfway mark. United’s midfield was vastly non-existent for large quarters of the game but substitute Marcus Rashford pulled one back in the second half to give the visitors a glimmer of hope.

However, Marko Arnautovic took advantage of some shambolic defending and scored the third in the 74th minute to put the final nail in the coffin for the visitors. Here are three things that went wrong for Manchester United. 

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Jose Mourinho’s questionable tactics

Jose Mourinho had utilized a 4-3-3 formation for almost all the games this season so far but the Portuguese tactician switched to a virtual 5-3-2 against West Ham. This is not the first time that Mourinho’s bizarre tactics have put the team in trouble. He had experimented with a back three against Tottenham Hotspur with Ander Herrera playing as a quarterback, leading to disastrous consequences.

It was no different this time around as Scott Mctominay found himself as the next scapegoat in the line-up. The youngster visibly looked lost in an unfamiliar position and did not seem to know what his role was. It was not only the sudden change of formation that disrupted the balance of the team but also the fact that most of the players did not have their roles clearly defined by the manager.

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Poor defending

Apart from Chris Smalling, who looked like the captain of a sinking ship, no other defender contributed enough. Victor Lindelof has been poor all season and Smalling has covered for his flaws on multiple occasions but that could not rescue United against a hungry and potent West Ham attack.

McTominay proved to be a glaring misfit at the back and disrupted whatever little stability Smalling and Lindelof had managed to provide in the earlier games. He was badly out of position as Pablo Zabaleta’s cross found its way to Felipe Anderson for the opener.

Furthermore, all the defenders seemed to switch off as Mark Noble’s perfectly-weighted through ball found Arnautovic amidst three United shirts at the back. And yet, the striker was left with acres of space to comfortably guide the ball past the goalkeeper, who cut a rather helpless figure.

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Lack of creativity and dynamism in the attack

United’s predictable methods of attacking have become bread and butter for the opposition to deal with. The Red Devils resorted to the same old tactics and used Ashley Young and Luke Shaw to play crosses into the box, hoping that either Romelu Lukaku or Marouane Fellaini would meet them with their heads.

However, a bulk of the crosses lacked quality, making it easy for the goalkeeper and the defenders to cope with. Fellaini’s downward header was saved by Lukasz Fabianski and Lukaku’s header came back off the post – that was as close as United had come to scoring before Rashford pulled one back.

Paul Pogba had a horrible day and the West Ham midfielders kept the Frenchman at bay. Nemanja Matic could have done more to prevent Yarmolenko from getting into a scoring position but he was not the only one to blame.

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Unsurprisingly, the midfield lacked creativity when denied spaces by a rather compact opposition. Consequently, there was no build-up play from the central areas of the park and the flow of United’s attacks was restricted only to the flanks. Anthony Martial showed a lot of energy and endeavour but did not get much support from the midfielders.  

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