Erik ten Hag could be facing his last opportunity to get Manchester United’s poor season back on track as they prepare to face a winless Burnley.
Ten Hag’s side travel to Turf Moor on Saturday 22 September to face Vincent Kompany’s Burnley for the first time in the Premier League.
The match is live on talkSPORT from 7.30pm, with kick-off at 8.00pm – Sam Matterface and former England defender Micky Gray will bring you commentary from the game.
Manchester United have now lost their last three games in all competitions, following defeats to Bayern Munich, Brighton and Arsenal.
Burnley are faring no better, having picked up just one point in the Premier League so far in their draw against Nottingham Forest.
Both sides will be desperate to get something out of the game – but for Erik ten Hag, there could be much more than just three points riding on this game.
United’s woeful start to the season
Manchester United’s spell of terrible results has been compounded by their growing absence list.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka became the latest absence after he picked up a hamstring injury in their 3-1 defeat to Brighton.
He joins Luke Shaw, Tyrell Malacia and Amad who are all on the sidelines with long-term injuries.
The club will hope to be boosted by Mason Mount and Raphael Varane after both returned to group training.
And we could see Harry Maguire back on the pitch after the defender missed their Champions League opener against Bayern Munich due to injury.
But captain Bruno Fernandes insisted absences should not be affecting their ability to give good performances.
“We have enough players to give a response on the pitch,” he told TNT Sports after their loss to Bayern Munich. “Obviously, we want everyone fit, as many players as possible, and we know we have some important players injured, but that’s not an excuse not to win games.”
Antony and Jadon Sancho also remain unavailable as the former faces allegations of abuse, while Sancho is out of the squad pending the resolution of a disciplinary issue.
In the latest development, it has been reported by Manchester Evening News that there is a suspected leak in the dressing room.
The report stated that some Manchester United players are unhappy with Ten Hag’s decision to banish Sancho from the squad.
But when asked about the supposed leak, Ten Hag was quick to turn the conversation back to the pitch.
“At United, you have to win every game so it doesn’t change anything,” he said. “As always, it’s about how we play against Burnley, there’s no easy game, definitely not against Burnley.”
Is this Erik ten Hag’s last chance to turn things around?
If we look back at some of Ten Hag’s predecessors, then it looks as though Ten Hag may have a few games left to turn things around before he is in real trouble – but not many.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer left the position in 2021 after losing five out of their last seven Premier League games.
Back in the 2018-19 season, Jose Mourinho was sacked after the side won just seven of their opening 17 matches.
And David Moyes recorded six league losses at home and an FA Cup loss to Swansea before he was sacked in 2014.
With three Premier League losses and a Champions League defeat already on his record, a bad result against Burnley could see Ten Hag’s position called into further question.
But someone who has surprisingly spoken out in his support is rival manager Kompany.
The former Manchester City player has admitted he empathises with the pressure United are under.
“I have been at a big club before and I know how it is when you lose a couple of games – the pressure can mount,” Kompany said.
“When in a top club you are always one loss away from a crisis.” he said. “That doesn’t just have to be United – it is the same in every top club.”
And he insisted that if anyone can turn Manchester United’s season around, it is Ten Hag.
“One thing this man has demonstrated is that he is extremely capable. There is no doubting that,” he said. “All the rest that is happening in the outside world, he can’t control that.”
What is going wrong at United?
There are problems at Manchester United that Ten Hag, for all his skill, cannot fix on his own.
The Glazers’ failure to sell the club, despite their statement that they were open to offers, has led to a lack of coherent leadership in the club.
And despite the net £410million spent on signings in the last three years, Manchester United do not look like a team who are capable of making a convincing top four challenge – forget a title challenge.
Antony and Sancho’s combined worth is £150 million – and neither look like they will be featuring heavily for the club this season, if at all.
There seems to have been a distinct failure to invest in Manchester United’s academy players and nurture their home-grown talent which has left the squad in its current depleted state.
Are Burnley destined for a Championship return?
It is early days for Burnley, but having picked up just one point in their first four games, they look set to be firmly involved in the relegation dogfight come the end of the season.
The three promoted Championship sides – Burnley, Luton and Sheffield United have all struggled to find their feet in the Premier League.
But Kompany’s side do not lack determination and they will know that a disorganised Manchester United could offer a huge opportunity for them to move out of the bottom three.
The team that faces Manchester United is unlikely to differ much from the side that finally picked up a point in their most recent 1-1 draw to Nottingham Forest.
Striker Lyle Foster will be absent though as he serves the first of his three-match suspension following the red card he was given for violent conduct in that game.
Michael Obafemi and Darko Churlinov remain absent through long-term injuries, while Hjalmar Ekdal’s knee injury will keep him out for a few weeks at least.
With the rocky start to the season both teams have had, their meeting at Turf Moor is set to be a hard-fought battle as both sides look to pick up much-needed points.
Source From: Football News, Transfers, Opinion – talkSPORT