Inexplicable, predictable: Man Utd’s hot mess embarrassingly limp past Coventry

Inexplicable, predictable: Man Utd’s hot mess embarrassingly limp past Coventry

FROM WEMBLEY – How do explain a football team like this?

FA Cup finalists Manchester United are remarkable, in the worst sense. Built on a history of never giving up and finding a way to win, the modern iteration always gives you a chance and continually finds a way to blow it.

Sunday’s semi-final opponents, Championship side Coventry City, produced one of the most storied comebacks in competition history, forcing their way back from 3-0 down at 70 minutes to force extra time. But for VAR ruling out a winner which blew the roof off Wembley in the 120th minute and a couple of missed penalties in the shootout, they’d be coming back to the home of football for a date with Manchester City on May 25.

Coventry’s players and manager Mark Robins deserve massive credit for their part in this day of drama, but the spotlight will fall stronger than ever on United, even in victory.

The fact that United allowed the match to reach the point it did is cause for alarm. It should be surprising, but it wasn’t. It was predictable, and a trait of this group. A result of the way this club has been managed for over a decade and one accustomed to losing.

In the FA Cup this season they’ve let a two-goal lead slip against League Two Newport. And in April alone they’ve lost a lead they took in the 96th minute in the 99th in a draw at Brentford, and shipped two goals in the 100th & 101st minute to Cole Palmer in a loss at Chelsea. United have conceded three goals in a match on 14 separate occasions across all competitions this season.

Have you ever seen a player more thrilled at reaching the cup final? / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

The collapse against Coventry might be the worst of them all. Just for the occasion, the situation and the opposition. Never has an afternoon better summed up how fragile the mentality of this team is, how naive and poor the game management in leading positions is, or how unfit for purpose several of the players on the field are.

Never has an afternoon better summed up the mess that is Manchester United.

Erik ten Hag has continually pointed to how injuries have derailed his team’s season, and while he’s right to point to what he hasn’t got, excuses at United can only fly for so long. Collapses like Sunday’s cannot be tolerated but too often happen.

United’s soft mentality, displayed by even the most seasoned of professionals, combined with a lack of fitness and capability for playing the high-risk football Ten Hag wants is a recipe for continued disaster. We’ve seen disaster on numerous occasions under the Dutchman’s guidance and while his team survived for another day this time around, it cannot continue.

New part-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe, sat aside Avram Glazer, was spotted exasperated in the stands at what unfolded in front of him. New technical director Jason Wilcox had an interesting first outing watching the new mess he’ll be charged with fixing.

Whether the manager moves forward with them is anybody’s guess at the moment but this was already a club that needed a total reboot. Sunday was a reminder that it can’t come soon enough.


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