After five defeats in nine matches, Manchester United approaches the arrival of Galatasaray on Tuesday (8:00 p.m.) in the Champions League, with low morale and a broken attack, a failure illustrated by Marcus Rashford, at a level so far removed from his last season .
For the Red Devils, the transition between the two seasons resembles a roller coaster: the exhilaration of newfound heights, with a third place in the Premier League and a first trophy in six years (League Cup), was followed by the start of exercise weighed down by injuries, poor performances and internal shocks.
On Saturday, they fell 1-0 at home against Crystal Palace, a fourth defeat in seven league matches, adding to the inaugural loss in the European Cup in Munich against Bayern (4-3).
“We have to show in our body language that Old Trafford is a fortress, that you can’t bring anything back from here, that the only way to leave here is with a defeat,” urged coach Erik Ten Hag.
– Starving goal average –
On both sides of the battlefield, Manchester United are struggling.
The Red Devils are conceding too many goals, a concern undoubtedly linked to the cascade of injuries which have targeted starters like Luke Shaw, still on the flank, Lisandro Martinez who will soon be operated on, or even Raphaël Varane, now recovered.
But, above all, they score too few: seven in seven league matches, an average including the 3-2 inflicted on Nottingham Forest.
Arriving injured from Bergamo, the young Danish center forward Rasmus Hojlund has not yet shaken the Premier League nets, despite encouraging appearances. Rashford only scored once, a meager record considering his rich statistics from last season (30 goals and 11 assists, all competitions combined).
His attitude on the pitch, considered too resigned, would be a cause for concern within the staff, the Mirror understands, citing sources close to the locker room.
“He’s not scoring at the moment, that’s a fact, but he’s creating opportunities,” said Ten Hag, when asked about the England international on Monday. “If he works hard and invests every day, with the right concentration, and if the team serves him and helps him with movement, then it will come,” added the Dutchman.
– “Question of character” –
There are ups and downs in a career, Ten Hag also said, without targeting Rashford specifically. “Now it’s a question of character, what to show and how to cope.”
Defender with four Champions League titles with Real Madrid, Raphaël Varane also appeared before journalists on Monday with an offensive and optimistic speech.
“Yes”, Manchester can win the big European Cup, he replied. “We have to improve on certain points, it’s not the start to the season that we were hoping for, but I still believe that we can compete with the best teams in the world,” asserted the 2018 world champion with the French team.
Before dreaming of Wembley, where the final will be played, we will already have to deal with the Turks of Galatasaray, undefeated in the Süper Lig this season and credited with a point against Copenhagen (2-2) at the opening of the League group stage champions.
The Istanbul club can hurt in attack with Wilfried Zaha, Tete and Mauro Icardi, in particular. But there are also spaces left in the defense of Fernando Muslera, the 37-year-old captain and goalkeeper.
Will Rashford be able to get there? In his garden, the striker presents a very different face from one season to the next: no goals at home in the 2018/2019 European campaign, for example, compared to five in three matches in 2020/2021.