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Manchester United punished by Huddersfield Town for their poor performance

Manchester United tasted defeat in the Premier League for the first time this season, with Huddersfield ending their eight-match unbeaten run at John Smith’s Stadium. United conceded twice as part of a dismal first-half performance which saw, Aaron Mooy pounce on a rebound in the 28th minute and Jonas Lossl set up Laurent Depoitre. Much of the focus for both goals was on the mistakes that lead up to both chances.

For the first goal, Juan Mata was dispossessed inside the centre circle with only Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling for cover.  For the second goal, Lindelof allowed Lossl’s long kick to bounce instead of heading clear. In his post-match comments, Jose Mourinho refused to lay the blame solely at the feet of the aforementioned United players, stating:

“It’s not fair to say that the mistakes were responsible for the defeat because the mistakes were in the context of the overall performance. If we are playing amazingly well and then we lose because of an individual mistake, then we can say ‘okay we lost because of an individual mistake’. But no, since the first minute, the game was poor for us. We paid the price and I think deservedly.”

As Mourinho highlighted Manchester United had started the game poorly and an early injury to Phil Jones also didn’t help matters. Despite the change at the back Manchester United had been poor in possession and showed little to suggest that they were going to break down Huddersfield’s well-organised defence and after an early save from Romelu Lukaku, it wasn’t until the 76th minute that United would force Lossl to make another save.

That’s isn’t good enough for a team with championship aspirations and although it is still early in the season Manchester United cannot afford to drop points in fixtures like this. Especially when you consider the fact that Jose Mourinho has appeared content with drawing away matches to top six opposition. For such a plan to lead Manchester United to a league title, they would have to win matches like this one.

Despite Manchester United’s impeccable results up until now, there have been periods of play during the season that have raised alarm bells. Manchester United never had control during the draw at Stoke despite taking a 2-1 lead. Everton were the more threatening side for much of their visit to Old Trafford, particularly in between the first and second goals from United. The second half against Southampton saw Manchester United dominated by the home side and any observers of the match would agree that United were fortunate to come away with all three points.

Based on these occurrences, it wasn’t so surprising that Manchester United slipped up and conceded during another one of these poor periods. It also was not surprising that Manchester United wasn’t able to score their way out of the hole they had built for themselves as they have been poor in attack and have struggled to score since the international break. Managing only two goals in their last three games in all competitions.

Jose Mourinho criticised United’s attitude from the first minute of the game but the bigger test of their attitude and character will be how they bounce back from this defeat. Many successful teams point to a loss or failure as the springboard to a great run, hopefully, Manchester United can use this loss as a learning experience. They will have to rebound quickly as they are set to play the teams that finished first and second in the Premier League in their next two fixtures as they welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Old Trafford and then visit Stamford Bridge.

Written by David Sagoe

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