Erik Ten Hag is coming into a huge inbox of problems so I hope he’ll forgive me for adding another one to it, but it is another problem he needs to solve. What do Everton, Aston Villa, Southampton, and Watford all have in common?
They’re all sides in the lower half of the Premier League table who have come away from Old Trafford with at least one point, whilst bottom side Norwich were only a Ronaldo masterclass away from joining them.
That’s four of the bottom seven sides who have walked away from a visit to United with a result. In the top half, Leicester and Wolves have claimed results, Spurs were also denied by a Ronaldo masterclass and West Ham by a last gasp Rashford goal, then of course there’s the humiliations by Manchester City and Liverpool.
In addition West Ham, Middlesbrough and Ateltico Madrid have all turned up to the famous stadium and proceeded to knock United out of each of the cup competitions. When Liverpool lost six games in a row last season it was seismic. They hadn’t lost at home for nearly three years before that day and haven’t lost at home since. Teams fear visiting Anfield, they fear visiting the Etihad, they possibly even fear visiting the Emirates. But it’s quite clear they don’t fear visiting Old Trafford.
In Sir Alex Ferguson’s penultimate title winning campaign, in 2011, United dropped just two points at home all season, in a 2-2 draw with West Brom (where they threw away a two-nil lead) and that provided the foundation for the success.
I’m not saying Ten Hag needs to get to that point, at least not in year one. But he should be working to ensure that all but the top teams aren’t coming to Old Trafford believing they can get a result and, in many cases, succeeding in doing so.
As a new regime the fans in the stadium are likely to be very vocal in their backing in the early stages. If Ten Hag can take that backing and use it to make Old Trafford into something resembling a fortress again he’ll have gone some way to setting United on the right track again