Aston Villa v Man Utd: Pictures
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Manchester United’s recent resurgence is over. Erik ten Hag and his side were given a stark reminder of how much work is left to do as they were outplayed, outfought and outmanoeuvre by Aston Villa on Sunday. Goals from Leon Bailey, Lucas Digne and Jacob Ramsey gave the home side all three points – with Luke Shaw only managing a consolation in return.
Manchester United had gone into their showdown with Villa full of confidence after recent wins over Sheriff, West Ham and Real Sociedad.
But the Red Devils were poor at Villa Park, with Ten Hag unable to prevent his side slipping to their fourth Premier League defeat of the season.
Bailey and Digne gave Villa the perfect start, scoring inside the first 11 minutes to send the home crowd wild.
Shaw pulled a consolation back for United, with his deflected striker sailing past Emiliano Martinez and into the net.
But Ramey struck after the interval to make the result safe for the home side, putting the game beyond United’s reach in the process.
It’s clear Ten Hag needs more transfer backing from the top if the glory days are to return to Old Trafford. Now, Express Sport takes a look at three reinforcements the Glazers need to bring in to ensure this loss is merely a blip – and nothing more.
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United signed one centre-back in Lisandro Martinez back in the summer.
But they clearly miss Raphael Varane and need somebody just as good as the France international to ensure they don’t get torn apart at the back.
Victor Lindelof has his uses but is a squad player at best. The Swede was dreadful against Villa, particularly during the early stages of the contest.
Harry Maguire, too, isn’t good enough to play for the Red Devils week in, week out.
United can’t rely on Varane given his injury record these days and somebody top, to go alongside the 2018 World Cup winner, certainly wouldn’t go amiss.
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Another right winger
Yes, United are well-stocked when it comes to wingers.
But when Antony is out, as he was today, the Red Devils lack a specialist when it comes to the right of their attack.
Marcus Rashford was used there against Villa but, like team-mates such as Jadon Sancho, Alejandro Garnacho and even Anthony Martial, he’s better-suited to the left instead.
United signed Antony because they knew they were short on options but, still, they need somebody who can genuinely fill in for the Samba star when he’s missing.
They do have other priorities – but that’s another signing the Glazers will need to make sooner, rather than later.
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Out of all the areas of United’s squad where they need strengthening, a new striker is arguably the most-urgent.
Cristiano Ronaldo is a shadow of his old self and spent more time moaning against Villa than actually influencing the game.
And though Martial has done well when picked this season, the France international’s injuries mean he can’t always be relied on.
United need a Victor Osimhen, Joao Felix or even a Harry Kane to ensure they continue to evolve as a side.
Waiting until the summer to sign a new marksman could, ultimately, be the difference between them qualifying for the Champions League or not.
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Ten Hag’s thoughts on defeat
Speaking after United lost to Villa, Ten Hag criticised his players and accused them of ‘not following the rules’.
“We lose the game start of the first half and second half, that is unacceptable,” he said.
“After a long time this has happened, I said it was up to us.
“We didn’t keep the ball, we didn’t get the right organisation, didn’t follow the rules and lost battles.
“The result is clear, it never lies. In football you always get your own earnings. Today we were not good enough.”
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