Marcel Sabitzer saw issues at Manchester United first-hand during his short-term loan spell. Now at Borussia Dortmund, the midfielder has taken time to talk about his former club’s poor start to the new season.
Bruno Fernandes’ late heroic winner at Fulham handed Erik ten Hag a moment of relief. However, a failure to get anything less than three points in Copenhagen in the Champions League on Wednesday will once again intensify pressure on the Dutchman.
The Red Devils finished third on the Premier League table and ended their long wait for a trophy in Ten Hag’s maiden season. On the back of last season’s performance and another big transfer window, the former Ajax coach was expected to challenge Manchester City for the league title this campaign.
However, his side’s defeat against their neighbors underlined there’s still a huge gulf between the two clubs. A few days later, United also bowed out of the League Cup with another 3-0 humbling – this time at the hands of Newcastle.
Such an underwhelming start to the season has puzzled many fans and pundits alike. However, Sabitzer has made very interesting comments that do pretty well to shed light on United’s current predicament.
The Austria international told The Athletic: “You ask yourself, ‘What’s going on?’ There’s a lot of noise, results are not good, they’ve had defeats at home, which almost felt unthinkable last season.
“And there’s still the unresolved situation of the ownership. You can see what that does to a team. I feel sorry for them because they’re all good guys, and extremely hungry for success.”
The 29-year-old also suggested that Ten Hag, who supposedly comes up with very specific match plans and patterns of play, is struggling due to the lack of structure and stability as a result of too many important players missing.
There’s certainly some truth in it, as last season the United boss relied on Luke Shaw and Lisandro Martinez’s technical ability to progress the play from deep. In their absence, United have relied on long balls to get out from their third. For now, this method has largely worked against them, with teams comfortably recovering possession from their weak midfield and hitting them in transition.