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Erik ten Hag during the UEFA Europa League match between Manchester United and Sevilla at Old Trafford, Manchester, April 2023.

How Man Utd responded to their 5 heaviest defeats under Ten Hag

Erik ten Hag’s first season at Manchester United has generally been positive, but his side have suffered some demoralising defeats away from Old Trafford throughout the campaign.

Ten Hag arrived in England following United’s catastrophic 2021-22 season, and has guided his new charges to the EFL Cup and into a prime position for a return to the Champions League.

But United have also been unceremoniously turned over in a string of high-profile away matches, including a 3-0 reverse against Sevilla in the Europa League quarter-final, which will remind Ten Hag of the scale of the rebuilding job needed at Old Trafford.

Here are 5 examples of painful defeats, and how Ten Hag’s United responded to them.

Brentford 4-0 Manchester United (August 2022)

After losing their opening game, keyboard warriors across the world could barely contain their glee as United conceded four first-half goals at Brentford in mid-August.

Looking back, it was almost the best thing that could’ve happened; Ten Hag dropped Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo for the visit of Liverpool, where a much-improved performance saw United run out 2-1 winners.

Three more league victories followed, including a stirring win over Arsenal, before the Manchester derby in early October…

Manchester City 6-3 Manchester United (October 2022)

Where United received a reality check at the hands of their city rivals.

Erling Haaland and Phil Foden both scored hat-tricks on a chastening afternoon for Ten Hag, as United were flattered by the 6-3 scoreline.

Again, the response to the setback was impressive; United would remain unbeaten for the remainder of October, with impressive victories over Everton, Tottenham and West Ham.

And the Eithad evisceration was the catalyst for Casemiro’s integration into the starting XI. It’s hard to imagine life without him.

Casemiro celebrates after the League Cup final between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Wembley Stadium, London, February 2023.

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Aston Villa 3-1 Manchester United (November 2022)

Aston Villa were hovering just outside the relegation zone when United travelled to Birmingham in early November, but their appointment of Unai Emery would produce immediate results.

Villa raced into a two-goal lead on a murky afternoon and would record their first victory over United at Villa Park since the 1990s.

This was Cristiano Ronaldo’s final game for United before he shat all over his legacy with that Piers Morgan interview. His contract would be terminated before the end of the month.

United beat Villa four days later on route to their EFL Cup triumph, before an extended run of good form after the World Cup saw some observers declare that Ten Hag’s side were title contenders.

Liverpool 7-0 Manchester United (March 2023)

Alas, any pretensions United had of their first Premier League crown in 10 years were firmly extinguished during a humbling afternoon at Anfield.

Leading 1-0 at the break, Liverpool ran riot against a ragged United in the second half to secure an era-defining 7-0 victory over their arch-rivals. It was also United’s heaviest defeat since 1930.

Despite seeing off Real Betis in the Europa League, a disappointing draw with Southampton was hardly the way United would’ve chosen to bounce back. The pressure was on.

Newcastle United 2-0 Manchester United (April 2023)

And Newcastle gained revenge for their EFL Cup final defeat with a comprehensive success over United at a buoyant St James’ Park.

Second-half goals from Joe Willock and Callum Wilson consigned Ten Hag’s men to another dispiriting away defeat and Luke Shaw didn’t hold back in his post-match interview.

“They [Newcastle] won it on passion, desire, hunger, attitude, and they had higher motivation than us,” Shaw said. “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.”

United responded with wins over Brentford, Everton and Nottingham Forest to cement their top-four credentials, but the humiliation in Seville demonstrated that this has been a season of two steps forward and one step back at Old Trafford.


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