Four things Man Utd need to work on during the international break

  • Man Utd have disappointed so far this season
  • Red Devils have already lost nine games in all competitions
  • How Erik ten Hag's side can get their campaign back on track
Ten Hag has issues to solve
Ten Hag has issues to solve / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Manchester United are one of the Premier League's most in-form teams at the moment. They're also, simultaneously and paradoxically, a bit rubbish.

Erik ten Hag's plans to turn the Red Devils into the world's most potent transitional team have not come to fruition so far this season, with much of the campaign spent just trying to look like a competent footballing outfit.

There were reasons for United to be optimistic heading into Ten Hag's second season but a lot of that positive feeling has been sapped back out of Old Trafford.

Having seen off Luton Town on Saturday, United at least went into the November international break on a bit of a high after further disappointment in Europe.

Without going full David Moyes 'United must improve in a number of areas, including passing, creating chances and defending', here's what Ten Hag and his charges need to work on at Carrington before they return to competitive action.

How to feed your striker

Rasmus Hojlund
Hojlund has been starved of service / Maja Hitij/GettyImages

Good news, United fans - there's no chance that Rasmus Hojlund can get injured on international duty because he's pulled out of Denmark's squad. Bad news, United fans - he's already injured. Sorry to momentarily get your hopes up.

Despite proving to be one of United's best players so far this season and looking like a player that could well be worth the £72m transfer fee they paid to Atalanta, Hojlund is yet to grab a goal contribution in his eight Premier League games.

This is in part down to the fact United have created very little for their centre forwards this season. Hojlund at least puts himself about and relishes getting into battles with opposition defenders, but he isn't being supplied the ball in the right areas enough. He had an effort from point-blank range against Luton miraculously kept out by goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski, but the chances don't even need to be that clear-cut if he's to end this drought.

Ten Hag may have to begin the thawing of Anthony Martial on the other side of the international break, but it won't matter too much who's up top if they can't feed them properly.

Keep your heads

Marcus Rashford
Rashford's form has hurt Man Utd / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

Hojlund isn't the only one having trouble finding the net. United's top scorers in the Premier League so far are midfielders Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay with three strikes each. Forwards Hojlund, Marcus Rashford, Alejandro Garnacho, Antony, Facundo Pellistri, Martial and the ostracised Jadon Sancho have combined for just one goal.



That's only one more than me. The eternal question of 'how many goals would you score up front for Manchester City?' should now be 'how much worse could you be up front for United?'.

Hojlund might not be having as much luck finding a clear route to goal, but the likes of Rashford and Garnacho have been. They just haven't been sticking it in the onion bag the way they were last season.

A lot of United's woes would be solved if they were even a tad more clinical. History suggests that variance will eventually turn the tide back in their favour. I've never seen history score a goal, is all.

A club reunited

Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes - Soccer Player - Born 1994, André Onana, Christian Eriksen, Alejandro Garnacho, Rasmus Højlund, Harry Maguire
More scenes like this wouldn't go amiss / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is expected to seal the acquisition of a 25% stake in United before the resumption of club football. This should, in theory (a rather large disclaimer with this lot), herald a new era at United.

There's no reason that optimism shouldn't spread to the pitch. There's at least a responsibility on the players to try.

And no, this doesn't equate to Bruno Fernandes having a strop to prove he's passionate and competitive. United's lack of intensity may be a fitness issue - particularly amid such an injury crisis - but the optics of that in an age of universal pressing are not good. In the words of everyone standing on the Stretford End, how about running around a bit?

So about the running around...

Thanks for being so receptive to this idea, Casemiro / Visionhaus/GettyImages

You're not getting off the hook that easy, lads.

Earlier this season, much of United's squad already looked shattered. Body language is one issue, but just simply not being fit enough is another.

That falls a bit more in Ten Hag's remit. Why can't his players go stride-for-stride with, I don't know, Brighton & Hove Albion? Or Crystal Palace? Or Galatasaray?

Again, the caveat here is the Dutchman is now just trying to keep most of his players fit from one game to another. Again, the counter-caveat is can you just resemble a decent football team in any sense? Please?