Manchester United need to stop hiding behind the Glazer stance, Paul Merson said, and called on the players to stand up and be counted as they prepare to host Brighton in a crucial Premier League match at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Manchester United falls to 11th place, six points behind the English Premier League leaders and neighbor Manchester City, after a volatile start to the season.
Erik Ten Hag’s side, who are yet to pick up a point away from home in the league this season, spent the international break thinking about taking six points from their opening four games, leaving them already playing catch-up to the teams they want to catch. The challenge is at the top of the table.
In his final column for skysports.comMerson discusses the latest news at Manchester United ahead of the decisive round of matches in the English Premier League and Champions League…
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“Stop hiding behind Glazer’s attitude.”
There are a lot of problems at United at the moment.
The results were not great at the beginning of the season. They were beaten in north London, but Wolves could have got something going at Old Trafford and Nottingham Forest were also unlucky there. There is the issue of Jadon Sancho and the hype surrounding Harry Maguire. The transfer window has also not been the best, so there is increasing pressure on Ten Hag.
For me he has to find some answers on the field. He needs to win football games and he will know it. This is Manchester United, and they need to get into the top four.
Right now, it seems like everyone is hiding behind the situation with the Glazer family.
They are in the line of fire for everything they don’t seem to be playing the game. Of course, they can invest in the stadium, but a new state-of-the-art stadium will not make the players play better. Turf Moor is not ‘nice’ but Burnley still performed well.
Hiding behind the Glazers every time there is a defeat has to stop. It’s time for players to stand up, be counted and get results.
Manchester United’s results in the English Premier League this season so far…
- Man United 1-0 Wolverhampton
- Tottenham 0-2 Manchester United
- Manchester United 3-2 Nottingham Forest
- Arsenal 3-1 Manchester United
“Manchester United faces a difficult match against Brighton”
Manchester United need a result against Brighton. It’s a huge match for Ten Hag and his team.
It wasn’t the easiest start for United, but they were one centimeter away from a bad start with Alejandro Garnacho’s offside goal at Arsenal.
Nine points from the first four games, including trips to Arsenal and in-form Tottenham, looks very good. We would be singing about United by now if things had gone their way at the Emirates.
But this shows you the exact margins involved. Garnacho’s late goal was disallowed, and Declan Rice and Gabriel Jesus scored late goals, and the pressure is increasing on United after two wins and two losses in the first four matches.
“United cannot afford another defeat at this stage.”
When your goals at the start of the season include a Premier League title, you can’t afford three defeats in your first five games.
That’s why the Brighton game is a big game for United.
Defeat at home to Brighton, and as far as the title goes, it’s been another year. You’re just fighting for second, third, fourth and fifth place. They are just fighting to get into the top four, and we are only in the middle of September.
All the teams around them have also become stronger, so it will be a big battle to get into the top four.
“They have the ability to make things work.”
Brighton is an excellent team and they have experience of winning at Old Trafford.
They stunned United on the opening day of last season as Ten Hag’s reign at United got off to the worst possible start.
However, United have the ability to turn things on and show up when their backs are against the wall.
Ten Hag will be hoping that they can get a response from their players and get a result that will get their season started as they have had some good games in the league.
Hoglund is a bright spot for Manchester United
The bright spot for them at the Emirates Stadium was the emergence of striker Rasmus Hoglund.
It’s only been 20 minutes or so on the pitch but he’s shown a lot.
He was physical and beat Arsenal defender Gabriel on more than one occasion.
However, there will be different pressure on him now if he starts the match. Remember, we saw a lot of Mykhailo Modric in his Chelsea debut at Liverpool. He was brilliant for 20 minutes or so at the end of that game at Anfield but we haven’t seen anything since from the Ukraine international.
So, that’s the challenge for Hoglund. He could come against Lewis Dunk, who is a solid player in the Premier League. He also had a very good midweek game for England against Scotland, so he will go into this game full of confidence.
It will be interesting to see how Hoglund handles this challenge, but I like what I’ve seen from him so far.
“The next matches must be won by United.”
Man United need a good week. Ten Hag needs to have a good week, especially in the Premier League.
A trip to Harry Kane’s Bayern Munich looks tough at the moment, and that makes the Brighton game even more important.
The defeat against Brighton is followed by the defeat against Bayern, and then the pressure begins on Ten Hag.
Manchester United matches before the next international break…
- Saturday 16 September: Brighton (H) – Premier League, kick-off at 3pm
- Wednesday, September 20 Bayern Munich (away) – Champions League, match start at 8 pm
- Saturday 23 September: Burnley (away) – Premier League, kick-off at 8pm
- Tuesday 26 September: Crystal Palace (H) – Carabao Cup, kick-off at 8pm
- Saturday, September 30: Crystal Palace (home) – Premier League, kick-off at 3pm
- Tuesday, October 3: Galatasaray (H) – Champions League, match start at 8pm
- Saturday 7 October: Brentford (H) – Premier League, kick-off at 3pm
He will be under no illusions. He has had a good start at Old Trafford, winning the Carabao Cup, making the top four, reaching the FA Cup final and having a good run in Europe, but he knows he needs to keep winning games.
They have very winnable games coming up in the league, but they all become tough games if they can’t get a win against Brighton on Saturday. They follow up the game against Brighton with a trip to Burnley, and you’ll either be going to Turf Moor at the height of a kite or walking under a snake with your top hat very low.
Bayern’s match will be difficult. I don’t see them enjoying anything in Munich, but the games against Brighton and Burnley are must-win games for Manchester United.
Follow Manchester United vs Brighton on our live blog from 1.30pm on Saturday (kick-off at 3pm) and watch highlights for free from 5.15pm.