Marco Silva’s Fulham hosted Manchester United at Craven Cottage on Wednesday, following their devastating Carabao Cup defeat at the hands of Newcastle on Wednesday.
There was pressure on Erik ten Hag and his team to turn around a string of disappointing performances coming into the game.
Ten Hag put Andre Onana in goal at the beginning, starting the Cameroonian ahead of a defensive quartet consisting of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Jonny Evans, and Diogo Dalot.
Christian Eriksen began the game as United’s deepest-lying midfield player, surrounded in the middle of the park by Scott McTominay and Bruno Fernandes.
Alejandro Garnacho and Antony flanked Rasmus Hojlund at the head of the queue. Three things can be inferred from Manchester United’s 1-0 victory over Fulham.
Raphael Varane’s odd absence from
Varane was left off the pitch in yet another match.
It was rumoured that Varane is among the players who might not be happy with Ten Hag, amid rumours of background tensions and turmoil in the locker room.
The Frenchman was reportedly not amused by the manager’s choice to start Evans and Maguire instead of him in the match against Manchester City for “tactical reasons.”
Varane did not play in the Carabao Cup match against Newcastle. United stated that his illness was the only explanation for his absence.
Contradictory sources said that despite being fit, the World Cup winner did not practise and was unhappy with his current circumstances over his lack of playing time.
That’s why it was unexpected to see Varane on the bench once more when the Fulham squad sheet was released.
The fact that Ten Hag chose Maguire and Evans over Varane even in their presence is perplexing.
Ten Hag did not choose Varane even though Maguire had to be taken off the pitch multiple times during the ninety minutes for treatment.
While it’s true that Varane gives far more and is unquestionably the superior defender when healthy and injury-free, few can argue that Maguire and Evans have done anything particularly wrong when they’ve started together.
Varane only entered the game in the last moments to replace Garnacho and make sure United crossed the finish line.
United finds it difficult to generate enough opportunities for straightforward goals.
A recurring topic throughout the match was how difficult it was for the Red Devils to create adequate scoring opportunities.
Apart from McTominay’s disallowed goal in the first forty-five minutes, United did not produce anything for the remainder of the half, and this continued into the second half.
The majority of United’s opportunities came from long-range attempts that, to be honest, didn’t really bother Bernd Leno, who was mostly at ease throughout the match.
Even though Ten Hag’s team had a lot of possession, it’s unfortunate that they were unable to achieve anything with it until Fernandes scored the game-winning goal late on.
Even with perhaps two of the Premier League’s most inventive midfielders, Eriksen and Fernandes, representing United, on the pitch, opportunities were few and far between.
Hojlund cut a very irritated and lonesome figure up front, as he always has. There wasn’t much for the Dane to jump on.
When he was replaced, he was obviously upset.
The away fans were heard yelling “attack attack attack” during the game, seemingly trying to persuade the team to pick up the pace.
This season, United’s strikers have had difficulty finishing plays in the goal. However, a major contributing factor in this problem has been the lack of scoring opportunities that have been afforded to them.
If Ten Hag is to succeed in keeping his position as manager of the 20-time English champions, he will surely be eager to resolve this.
Antony is really impoverished once more.
Without a doubt, Antony was United’s worst player against Fulham.
When he was on, the Brazilian made very little of an impact, so it came as no surprise when he was taken out first, a few minutes after the hour had passed.
One of the main complaints from the players about Ten Hag is usually that he continues to pick Antony and shows favouritism for the player.
Antony has consistently failed to justify his place in the starting lineup this season, and it already looks as though United squandered a lot of money on him.
Even with his brief appearance, Facundo Pellistri accomplished more than Antony. The Uruguayan was credited for helping Fernandes score.
It’s significant that United supporters applauded Ten Hag’s substitution when the 23-year-old was taken off.