Ten Hag's future in question: 'I've never seen a team defend like that'

Gary Neville expects Manchester United to make a decision soon regarding the future of Erik ten Hag, now that the share takeover by Sir Jim Ratcliffe has been completed. Following the defeat against Fulham (1-2), criticism of the 54-year-old manager has increased once again.

Ten Hag's future in question: 'I've never seen a team defend like that'
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Manchester United's promising start to 2024 came to an abrupt halt on Saturday afternoon with their first Premier League defeat of the year.

The loss ended an unbeaten run of seven official matches, a stretch during which only Tottenham Hotspur managed to secure a draw (2-2) against Erik ten Hag's side. This defeat has not only halted their momentum but has also sparked a wave of criticism from the English media regarding the team's performance and, more specifically, their defensive strategy.

Jamie Carragher, the former Liverpool defender and current analyst for Sky Sports, added his voice to the growing concerns on Monday night. Utilizing video footage to dissect United's defensive breakdowns against Fulham, Carragher outlined significant tactical flaws. He expressed disbelief at the team's defensive approach, highlighting a disorganized strategy where the forward line pressed high up the pitch, yet the defense remained deep. "I've never seen a team defend like this. They press high, while the defense drops deep. That's impossible, you can't do both at the same time," Carragher remarked, pointing out the inherent contradiction in United's strategy.

Fulham's ability to exploit these tactical inconsistencies was evident from the early stages of the game. Carragher noted that United's season-long struggle with counterattacks and lack of pace in defense, coupled with insufficient mobility in midfield, were flawlessly exposed by Fulham within the first twenty seconds of the match. Moreover, Carragher criticized United's lack of a coherent playing style under Ten Hag, especially when in possession of the ball.

This critique comes at a critical juncture for Ten Hag, who has been tasked with stabilizing and revitalizing Manchester United after a period of inconsistency. The defensive lapses and tactical rigidity observed in the recent defeat have raised questions about the team's direction under his leadership. As the season progresses, Ten Hag's ability to address these issues and instill a clear, effective playing style will be paramount in determining his future at the club and whether he can lead Manchester United back to the upper echelons of English and European football.