The recent woes at Old Trafford have revealed a concerning trend for Manchester United, as opposition coaches and players openly discuss the vulnerability of Erik ten Hag’s side to transitions and counterattacks.
Following the defeats to Bayern Munich and Bournemouth, notable figures such as Harry Kane, Andoni Iraola, and Antoine Semenyo have emphasized exploiting spaces and taking advantage of quick transitions against United.
The pattern of teams capitalizing on transitions is not a new revelation, but the increasing frequency with which opponents target this weakness is becoming a prominent issue for Ten Hag.
Even in the Chelsea game, where they had ample opportunities on the break, poor decision-making spared United from further damage.
The challenge now lies in addressing this vulnerability, especially as teams are openly discussing their successful strategies against United.
The commitment to an offensive and proactive style often leaves them exposed when transitioning from attack to defense.
This was evident in the Chelsea match, where United’s commitment of many players forward led to several three-on-three and four-on-three breaks.
The midfield balance, highlighted by Scott McTominay’s advanced position and Bruno Fernandes playing a similar role, leaves United susceptible to swift counterattacks.
The lack of defensive cover, particularly with Sofyan Amrabat as the holding midfielder, compounds the issue.
Ten Hag faces the dilemma of maintaining his team’s preferred style or adapting to address the defensive vulnerabilities.
The upcoming challenge at Anfield, a ground historically unkind to United, adds urgency to finding a solution.
Memories of Jose Mourinho’s downfall five years ago, marked by a 7-0 defeat at Anfield, loom large.
The prospect of facing Liverpool’s formidable counterattacks demands a tactical adjustment, and failure to do so could lead to further scrutiny on Ten Hag.