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Man Utd 2-3 Galatasaray: Erik ten Hag faces more questions as he hopes to buck the trend


For Erik ten Hag, there was a worrying familiarity in the unwanted statistics that came out after the final whistle of his side's 3-2 defeat by Galatasaray at Old Trafford.

Manchester United have opened a Champions League campaign with consecutive defeats for the first time.

United have lost six of their 10 matches in all competitions this season. They have also conceded 18 goals in 10 games in all competitions in 2023-24, their most at this stage since 1966-67.

Statistics can be haunting at times like this.

For David Moyes, it was losing at home to Everton for the first time in 21 years followed by home defeat to Newcastle for the first time in 41.

For Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, losing 5-0 at home to Liverpool was an unwanted record.

For Louis van Gaal, 2015-16 was United's joint lowest number of Premier League wins and fewest goals scored.

When Jose Mourinho presided over a 3-0 Old Trafford defeat by Tottenham in 2018, it was the heaviest home loss of his career.


But Ten Hag's own words are damning as well.

"Our start to the season has not been good enough," he said in his programme notes - even before Tuesday's defeat. "Although there are reasons, we will not attempt to hide behind excuses. It is up to us to now to turn our fortunes around. What happens next is up to us and nobody else."

The problem at United in recent times is what happens next, not necessarily next week, or even next month, is when a spiral like this starts it tends to end up tossing the manager out of the door.


United struggles a bolt from the blue

Very much like Solskjaer two seasons ago, where United find themselves - mid-table in the Premier League with nine points from seven games, bottom of a Champions League group that also includes Copenhagen - is a shock because no-one saw it coming.

As with Solskjaer, Ten Hag went into the summer on the back of a promising campaign. Unlike the Norwegian, he also won a trophy.

There is similarity in the transfer business. Just as United patted themselves on the back by bringing in Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo two years ago, they have done so this season with the arrivals of Andre Onana, Mason Mount and Rasmus Hojlund.

For Solskjaer it didn't start to go wrong until the end of September. This campaign nosedived virtually from the moment it started.

A lucky win against Wolves on the opening weekend and a stirring comeback against Nottingham Forest at home, plus a narrow away triumph at Burnley, do not balance out damaging defeats by Tottenham, Arsenal, Brighton and Bayern Munich, even before we reached the past four days.

The more things change at United it feels, the more they stay the same. Antipathy towards the Glazer ownership continues in the form of in-match chanting against the Americans and social media abuse. Players are lambasted. Even the notoriously leaky Old Trafford roof remains.


The big question is can Ten Hag buck the trend? Can the Dutchman, who enjoyed such success at Ajax before quitting to become Solskjaer's permanent successor, be the man to find the answers beyond those he followed?

He thinks so.

"Last season went brilliant, more than we could expect," he said. "But also in this project we knew there would be gaps.

"We are in a very difficult period but we come out together. We fight together and stick together, that is me, the directors, the team. Altogether we will fight.

"This is not us. We know we will do better."

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