Five worst away defeats for Manchester United this season

It’s done, it’s finally over. Erik ten Hag and Manchester United will be relieved that the away games for this season are done. Our away struggles are no secret this season. Bad performances have given way to even worse results as the club has repeatedly shown a soft underbelly in the middle of an encouraging season.

With an away league record of eight wins, three draws, and eight losses, United have taken just 1.42 points per game on their travels this season. They conceded 33 goals in those games, a subpar total for any side, let alone one competing for UEFA Champions League qualification.

Here are the five worst away losses for Manchester United this season across all competitions:

5 – Aston Villa 3-1 Manchester United (Nov 6, 2022)

The new manager bounce wrecked Manchester United as Unai Emery’s reformed Villa side blew away the Red Devils in what was the nadir of Cristiano Ronaldo’s time at Manchester United.

This was to be the Portuguese superstar’s last appearance for the club as he became the symbol of everything Erik ten Hag didn’t want in a striker. Bruno Fernandes missed the game and his absence was keenly felt as Donny van de Beek had an anonymous game. United were chasing ghosts the whole game, as Villa went up by two goals in the first 15 minutes, and could have scored more on another day.

It would not be the first time United wilted in a rampant away atmosphere.

4 – Sevilla 3-0 Manchester United (April 21, 2023)

Does this result not look as worse now with the benefit of hindsight? Probably yes, considering Sevilla have shown yet again that they are a different beast in Europa League. However, this does not mean that United shouldn’t have won this tie.

A late collapse in the first leg meant United had to prove their mettle in one of the toughest venues in Europe to secure progression. However, what followed was a listless display with a similar theme. An early goal by Sevilla, United players wilting under pressure, leading to the home team having shots at will.

Bruno Fernandes was again missed for this one and it would also be another nail in the coffin of Harry Maguire’s prospects at Manchester United. The dream of three trophies in the season was over with a reality check in Europe.

3 – Manchester City 6-3 Manchester United (Oct 2, 2022)

This is the second-highest total of goals United conceded in a game this season but it still ranks third because United at least showed heart. They were just undone by a maverick team led by an otherworldly performance by the current best goalscorer in world football.

Erling Haaland and Phil Foden hit hat-tricks as Man City raced to a four-goal lead by halftime. A screamer by Antony gave way to another two goals by Guardiola’s side. Anthony Martial hit a late double to salvage some respect as United “won” the second half.

Moreover, xG figures showed that United created an xG of 1.71, compared to City’s total of 3. Therefore, it was more down to freakish finishing by two players at the top of their game than United being bad enough to concede six. Still, it showed how big a gap remains between the two city rivals. Erik ten Hag must have already known that City are at another level in their progression. This game confirmed it.

2 – Brentford 4-0 Manchester United (August 13, 2022)

If the game against City was an anomaly in terms of the final scoreline, this absolutely wasn’t. If anything this performance ranks as one of the worst United performances in the post-Sir Alex era.

United had come into the season with fresh hope and optimism as Erik ten Hag era began. A surprising defeat to Brighton meant questions were already asked of his team.

What followed in the second game was even worse. United completely gave up. They gifted Brentford one goal after another as the team’s glaring shortcomings with buildup play came to the fore. Four goals were conceded in the first 35 minutes as United were the masters of their own downfall.

It was Cristiano Ronaldo’s first start of the season after missing pre-season and it became abundantly clear then that he could not be a part of an Erik ten Hag side. Such was the impact of this game that the manager had to completely abandon his preferred style of play and resort to going more direct from the next game onwards.

A huge inquest post-match revealed the manager ran 14 km with the players, the same distance Brentford outran United by, in a show of solidarity. Standards had truly dropped at United and this was the biggest example.  United were going nowhere, and Ten Hag has done well since to pick up the pieces from that battering and make it a good season.

1 – Liverpool 7-0 Manchester United (March 5, 2023)

Most predictable first place since Manchester City were expected to win the PL title despite Arsenal leading with eight games to go. Throw out the xG figures, or chances created, or key passes played, a team just shouldn’t lose to their biggest rivals by seven unanswered goals.

Spurred on by a raucous Anfield crowd eager for revenge after losing in the reverse fixture, Liverpool put on a finishing clinic. Seven goals were scored from eight shots on target as familiar demons returned for United.

A good start, concede a goal, heads drop, then look like a ghost, wanting the game to just finish. Nobody was safe from criticism after this, and rightly so. United did give a reaction and won their next game, while in true anti-climactic fashion, Liverpool lost to Bournemouth in their next fixture. Furthermore, United will probably have the last laugh by qualifying for UCL at Liverpool’s expense.

However, the stench of such a mammoth derby defeat will always remain. This squad is now etched in history when it comes to the North-West derby, and for all the wrong reasons.

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