Look at Rasmus Hojlund trying to stop Bukayo Saka in ‘baffling tactical tweak’

Editor F365
Rasmus Hojlund v Arsenal
Rasmus Hojlund v Arsenal

Antony was incensed but at least he wasn’t clearly directed to stop Bukayo Saka like Man Utd striker Rasmus Hojlund. Silly Erik ten Hag.


Baffle ticket
Arsenal beat Manchester United on Sunday but what fool is interested in the football – that sets up a potentially phenomenal final week in the Premier League title race – when you can pretend that something controversial happened? Why talk about football when you can confect a nonsense?

And so to The Sun we go:

RED MIST Watch Antony’s reaction as footage of Man Utd star being moved to left-back vs Arsenal emerges after Liverpool meltdown

Now we have ‘watched Antony’s reaction’ on this emerging footage and what we saw was – and this is pretty extraordinary – a man walking over to the left-back position, pointing towards in his head in a lackadaisical ‘that’s a bit mad’ motion and, well, that’s it.

RED MIST? It wasn’t even slightly pink. Even The Sun describe his demeanour as ‘unimpressed’. Does that sound like the biggest story in football?

But we can hardly blame The Sun when it was MailOnline who started this absolute bollocks. And it is bollocks.

Antony throws ANOTHER strop after being asked to play as a makeshift left-back again during Man United’s defeat by Arsenal – as much-maligned winger is berated by Scott McTominay before discussing matters with Gabriel Jesus

A ‘strop’? We can safely say that neither Luke Augustus or Adam Shergold (yes, it took two of them) has ever spent time with a three-year-old if they think a man walking across the pitch and idly pointing to his head was ANOTHER strop.

To be fair, they wrote that he ‘was left baffled’, which is a far better description of his reaction than the one found in the headline.

But even the Mail could not pretend that bafflement at Erik ten Hag tactics is the biggest story in football.

READ: 16 Conclusions on Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal: Saliba, Casemiro, Partey, Garnacho, Trossard, Amad


You’ll never guess what he’s done now…
Somebody at The Sun has got hold of average team position graphics. Nobody at the Sun appears to understand average team position graphics. They have seen this…

…and somehow come up with this:

Erik ten Hag in baffling tactical tweak as eight Man Utd stars appear to be asked to stop one Arsenal player

It’s nothing short of lunacy that anybody could look at that pretty unremarkable position map and decide that Ten Hag planned for eight players to try and stop Bukayo Saka. Even before you consider that Manchester United had more possession and more shots.

They have more players (ever so slightly) positioned towards the left of the pitch because they attacked more down that side. Indeed, across the Premier League season, no team is more skewed to attacking down the left than Manchester United.

But there is currency in tactics talk as long as the tactics are ‘baffling’ so…

ERIK TEN HAG made a baffling tactical decision as Manchester United were beaten by Arsenal.

He didn’t but carry on…

The tight affair at Old Trafford was settled by a first-half goal from Leandro Trossard as United failed to threaten the Gunners goal.

A patched-up Red Devils side appeared more concerned with stopping the league leaders’ threat after shipping four at Crystal Palace on Monday.

They had more shots and more possession; Alejandro Garnacho, Amad Diallo and Kobbie Mainoo all dribbled past more players than anybody in an Arsenal shirt.

Ten Hag was seemingly fearful of one player in particular – Bukayo Saka.

So in a bid to counter the winger’s threat Ten Hag directed several players to cover Arsenal’s right flank.

The average positions of United’s players shows at least eight played towards that area of the pitch to limit Saka’s space.

We have stared and stared at this average position map and it genuinely only shows us that United skew ever so slightly left and that the only players actually ‘directed’ left were left-back Diogo Dalot, left-sided centre-half Jonny Evans and left winger Garnacho. And the clues are in their position names.

Ten Hag is by no means a brilliant Manchester United manager, but let’s not pretend that he sent out centre-forward Rasmus Hojlund to ‘limit space’ for Saka when he clearly sent him out there to look entirely out of his depth as a Premier League striker.


Why does it always rain on me?
Over in the Daily Telegraph, Mediawatch’s eyes were drawn to this headline:

End is nigh for soggy Erik ten Hag as Man Utd sink to new levels of ineptitude

Pretty sure the ‘new levels of ineptitude’ came on Monday when they lost 4-0 at Crystal Palace. Elsewhere in the Telegraph, we are told that ‘Erik ten Hag did get some form of response from Monday’s 4-0 capitulation at Crystal Palace’ so it’s curious that Oliver Brown is weighing in now…

Even Ten Hag’s choice of suit carried a certain pathos. It was identical to the beige number he had worn to his United unveiling in 2022, when he boldly declared that he could break the Liverpool-Manchester City duopoly.

He didn’t. He really didn’t. He said: “You always see that an era can come to an end. I am looking forward to battle with them.”

Bold? Or pretty bloody anodyne and non-committal?

In the 11 years since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, has there even been a United line-up as limited as this? Shorn of Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford, they resembled lambs to the slaughter as Arsenal sought to sustain their quest for a first league title in 20 years.

They were also shorn of Tyrell Malacia, Luke Shaw, Lisandro Martinez, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Mason Mount.

And they might have ‘resembled lambs to the slaughter’ but they actually only lost 1-0. They clearly weren’t that bad.

But Brown was at Old Trafford so this is the defeat that he wants to mark as witnessing ‘new levels of ineptitude’. And he was at Old Trafford and saw quite a lot of rain so…

‘It took an evening deluge…veritable waterfall…soggy scene…drenched…springtime downpours…the storm offered a reflection on United’s mood…dissolved in a puddle…the water cascaded down…steady drip of decrepitude.’

Next week Oliver Brown is doing ‘sunshine’ for his Year 4 topic.

👉 Man Utd: Ferdinand blasts Ten Hag over ‘unfair’ treatment of star with Red Devils looking ‘uncoached’
👉 Rooney claims Ten Hag directed ‘massive insult’ at Man Utd players in Arsenal post-match interview