Erik ten Hag has made significant progress in his first season at Manchester United, but the away form against their top 10 rivals remains a concern.
Ten Hag has lifted United from last season’s stupor to deliver their first piece of silverware in six years by winning the League Cup and putting the Manchester giants on the verge of Champions League qualification.
But the size of the rebuilding job at Old Trafford has meant there have been inevitable hiccups along the way – usually at the homes of their biggest rivals and competitors.
We’ve ranked their Premier League performances away at sides in the top half from average to downright awful.
9. Fulham (2-1)
The only win United have achieved against top-half opposition on their travels came courtesy of a last-gasp winner from Alejandro Garnacho.
Fulham were upwardly mobile when United came to Craven Cottage in November, so Christian Eriksen’s early opener was a fillip for Ten Hag’s men.
But the hosts upped the tempo after the break and scored a deserved equaliser through ex-United forward Dan James.
Both sides had chances to win before Garnacho scored his first Premier League goal to steal all three points. A very satisfactory afternoon.
8. Tottenham (2-2)
A draw at Spurs isn’t usually a bad result – even Pep Guardiola and his team of Manchester City cyborgs have difficulty at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
But United were desperately disappointed to throw away a two-goal advantage against opponents that’d spent the build-up to the match refunding their fans and sacking the interim manager.
Strikes from Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford set United on their way, but they visibly tired in the second half and allowed Spurs to draw level through Pedro Porro and Son Heung-min.
Definitely a case of two points dropped.
7. Brighton (0-1)
After a fairly even first 45 minutes, United were pushed back by an eager Brighton side at the start of May but appeared to have escaped with a precious point.
Until Luke Shaw mistook the AMEX for Olympic beach volleyball. What’s his hand doing in its own postcode?
IN THE 99TH MINUTE BRIGHTON WIN IT! 🤯 pic.twitter.com/LjPshJOHLq
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) May 4, 2023
6. Arsenal (2-3)
The scoreline tells one story, but United were battered by Arsenal during the second half of this Premier League thriller.
Rashford, right in the middle of his purple patch, opened the scoring before Eddie Nketiah and Bukayo Saka flipped the score in the Gunners’ favour.
Lisandro Martinez capitalised on an Aaron Ramsdale blunder to level the scores, but Arsenal made United seem like diffident church mice with their relentless second-half pressure.
Nketiah’s instinctive winner was no less than Arsenal deserved and tentative talk of a United title charge died an instant death.
5. Aston Villa (1-3)
United hadn’t been beaten at Villa Park since 1995, but became the first victims of the Unai Emery renaissance in the West Midlands back in November.
Early strikes from Leon Bailey and Lucas Digne left Ten Hag’s Reds shell-shocked, and a line-up containing Cristiano Ronaldo for the last time failed to make headway against a sturdy Villa defence.
A lucky deflected goal gave United a lifeline, but Jacob Ramsey quickly restored Villa’s two-goal advantage after the break and United limped to a disappointing away defeat.
4. Newcastle (0-2)
“I do think that Newcastle are a very good side but I don’t think they won the game on quality today,” Shaw told Sky Sports after United lost 2-0 at a fervent St James’ Park.
“They won it on passion, desire, hunger, attitude, and they had higher motivation than us. It was a massive game today and they wanted it more.
“I feel I say the same things every time we lose. It was not good enough. At Manchester United that can’t be possible.
“I think it is unacceptable and we can all admit that. It is not what we want to set out to be.
“In big games like this you need that motivation, passion, hunger and attitude because it is an extremely tough place to come to. If we don’t give that we are going to suffer and it was obvious on the pitch.
“We didn’t create too much, to be honest, and I think maybe you can say it had been coming before the international break. We had dropped levels and it was clear to see today that the levels were not there.”
He was right too – this was a shocking performance against direct top-four rivals.
3. Manchester City (3-6)
Anybody can cop a hiding when Erling Haaland is in the mood – he and Phil Foden both scored hat-tricks in this October derby – but what made the reverse so dispiriting was that United had seemingly turned a corner under Ten Hag.
After dropping both Ronaldo and Harry Maguire, United had beaten Liverpool and Arsenal in a run of four straight victories going into the Etihad visit.
“When you don’t believe on the pitch, you can’t win games,” Ten Hag said afterwards.
“It’s quite simple, it’s a lack of belief. That is unacceptable. We get undisciplined at following rules and you get hammered, that’s happened.
“For me, it was a surprise. We were not on the front foot, we were not brave on the ball and there were spaces to play but we were not brave enough.
“At this moment I can’t think about positives. We let our fans down, we let ourselves down and we’re hugely disappointed.”
Man Utd fans leaving the Etihad😂 there not normal fans pic.twitter.com/xitqrru9Wx
— man City (@manCity01111) October 2, 2022
2. Brentford (0-4)
After conceding four goals in 30 minutes on an unseasonably warm day at Brentford, United looked set to become this season’s premier banter club.
The defeat was United’s seventh in a row on the road – their worst run since 1936 – and the seventh time they have conceded at least four goals in a league game since the start of last season.
Ten Hag looked incredibly sheepish on the touchline and called his players in the following day to run the 14km that separated them and the average Brentford player that afternoon. At least he joined in too.
1. Liverpool (0-7)
No explanation needed – this was simply a historic humiliation at the home of their arch-rivals just days after winning the EFL Cup.
United fans will be reminded of this scoreline for the rest of their lives. A real humbling.