MANCHESTER, England — Midway through the first half, with Manchester United already trailing 1-0, 9,000 Newcastle fans at Old Trafford began chanting at United manager Erik ten Hag: “You’re getting fired in the morning.”
With the score 2-0 before the end of the first half, the fans cheered every pass as their team moved around like a training session.
When Newcastle’s third and final goal came after 60 minutes, they were chanting, “We can see you sneaking out” — directed at the Man United fans who were hurrying to flee Old Trafford to save themselves further humiliation. And who can blame them?
Man United’s start to the season has been full of damaging defeats, but this was a contender for the worst. Four days after their capitulation against neighbors Manchester City, Newcastle suffered a second successive home defeat to knock the Ten Hague side out of the Carabao Cup.
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There is no shame in losing to Man City — widely regarded as the best club team in the world — but it was a Newcastle side stripped of their regulars as manager Eddie Howe rested key players ahead of crucial games against Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund. Howie made eight changes, but Man United were playing so poorly that he could have picked an XI from the away fans who spent the night and danced and still won comfortably.
“It’s below the standards everyone expects from Manchester United,” Ten Haag said afterwards. “It’s not good enough so far.
“We have to fix it. I take responsibility for it. It’s my team and it’s not performing. I have to share it with my players, but I’m responsible. We’re not good enough as a team and whatever the reason is. Either way, it’s There is no room for excuses.
“We have to do things better and raise our standards otherwise you never get the right level and performance. We have to do it together and everyone has to take responsibility for their own performance.”
Club bosses are desperate to hang on to Ten Haag but just six months after a successful first season as manager, his reign has descended into disarray. Man United have lost eight of their 15 games in all competitions, including five at home.
In 10 games at Old Trafford this season, they have lost the first six times and scored a total of 16 goals. In all competitions home and away, they conceded 26 times at 1.7 per game. If you can score regularly, such a leak in front of your own goal is not a big deal, but you can’t.
Ten Haag has had to deal with a long injury list that has stripped him of his first-choice defence, but this is a crisis by anyone’s standards.
Out of the Carabao Cup, struggling in their Champions League group and already well clear of the Premier League leaders, Man United are almost at the point where they are playing for pride. But judging by another performance against Newcastle – no enthusiasm or lack of direction – even that is too much to ask.
If Man United were going to a Halloween horror show, they were a day late.
“At the moment we are in a bad place,” ten Haag admitted. “I understand that when results don’t come, it’s a logical process and there are questions but I’m confident. I take responsibility for it.
“I’m a fighter and I know it doesn’t always go up and we’ve had a lot of setbacks this season but you have to deal with it. get results sunday [against Manchester City] And tonight was far from that so we have to perform at a certain level, the minimum level to win the game.
There is an argument that, although this season has had a particularly poor start, Man United have sunk since their Carabao Cup final victory over Newcastle in February. Up to and including lifting the trophy at Wembley — their first for six years — United’s winning percentage was 72.5%. Since then, it’s dropped to 54% and this season, it’s below 50%.
Whether the club admits it or not, Ten Hague is fighting for his job. For the first time since October 1962, Man United have lost by three or more goals in a row and for the first time in 93 years they have lost five of their first 10 home games in a season.
It is no accident that within 90 minutes against Newcastle, the Dutchman was dismissed as second favorite by the bookmakers to become the next Premier League manager at 8-1.
He still has enough support among the Man United supporters to be applauded down the tunnel by the few who blow the final whistle, but that won’t last forever. He has yet to worry about Newcastle’s “morning sacking” taunt but he faces a race against time to turn things around.