A fruitful away spell and a delightful Champions League streak alike came to an end for Manchester United on Wednesday as the side lost 2-1 to Istanbul Basaksehir.
A woeful defensive display saw Demba Ba and Edin Visca net goals in the first half while an Anthony Martial header minutes before the half-time whistle was the sole consolation for the Red Devils.
This is Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s second consecutive defeat this week and the form is frankly worrying. On the night, the side made some key tactical mistakes in particular:
1. Defensive Woes
An erstwhile stable backline was poorly organized during the fixture, leaking both goals. The vital error ended up being the absence of a pacey last man to combat counter-attacks. Basaksehir took great advantage of this and the sight of Nemanja Matic trying to match Ba during the opener was just woeful to see.
Likewise, the fact that Harry Maguire got nutmegged in the buildup to the second goal was also a poor mark on the side’s defence, pointing further worries to amend going forward.
2. No Shape
During the impressive games against PSG and RB Leipzig, Solskjær was hailed for his tactical brilliance in curating formations that would specifically handicap the opposition.
However, first against Arsenal and now once more in Istanbul, that ethos was thrown out of the window altogether. The discipline that a cogent shape usually commands was utterly absent from the traveling side who were often surprised by where some of their teammates were positioned.
This led to good runs and promising balls being fizzled out into nothing and on a more worrying note, left defenders agape at the absence of their teammates to block players.
Whilst trying to control versatility, the Norwegian gaffer may have bitten off more than he could chew.
3. Right-Flank Issue
United’s woes with the right-flank continue yet again and the higher-ups at the club need to be paying keen attention. The fact that a team like Manchester United are still relying on Juan Mata to produce brilliance from the right wing in 2020 is appalling.
The Spaniard has undoubted talent but at 32 years of age, he simply cannot be expected to do so consistently. His absence of attacking intent on Wednesday and even in previous games despite an excellent display against Newcastle United shows this clearly.
Will this act as a wakeup call to spend though?