Manchester United’s build-up play has become too predictable

Manchester United lost their third straight game for the first time since 2001 as West Bromwich Albion won 1-0 at Old Trafford.

If any Premier League side goes three games without a win or a goal it becomes a major worry, but for Manchester United to do it has to go down as a catastrophe.

There are no excuses for the sudden dip in form, the Red Devils have simply been worked out by three pragmatic opposition managers who knew that they had to allow them the majority of possession and not leave spaces in the final third.

During the wins over Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City, all three games saw United given too much space to play their intricate, quick-passing game in triangles around their opposition whilst Marouane Fellaini was utilised as a focal point all too easily.

However, in the defeats to Chelsea, Everton and West Brom, United have been allowed all of the ball with each opponent packing the midfield to stifle the threat of Fellaini and used the tactic of breaking quickly on United to superb effect.

As a result, United and their lack of a Plan B have failed to find the net or create enough clear-cut chances on goal.

Against the Baggies, they were forced to play sideways passes in front of the defence for most of the game and were unable to speed up the build-up play enough to force Tony Pulis’ men out of position regularly.

Of course, Robin van Persie’s penalty would not have been saved on another day and it is a moment which could have easily changed the game but the fact is that United should be outscoring a team like West Brom whether they park the bus or not.

Their build-up play has become predictable and they are not taking enough risks in possession. Too often, they are playing slow, easily defendable sideways passes rather than trying to play through balls or passes through the line into a strikers feet.

Louis van Gaal needs to find a solution to this problem quickly as the three defeats have seen Liverpool move just four points behind the Red Devils with three games to play. Although they are still in pole position to finish in the top four, they still have two more wins to achieve their aim of returning to the Champions League.

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