Man Utd moment that 'sank' Erik ten Hag set to cause Louis van Gaal repeat


United weren't exactly blowing teams away, but they were winning games at the start of 2024. Fulham visited Old Trafford on February 24 while the hosts were enjoying a seven-game unbeaten run, winning six of them.

But the Red Devils felt the absence of Luke Shaw and Rasmus Hojlund deeply, resulting in a toothless, underwhelming performance that has become all too familiar this season.

After a midweek reprieve in a 1-0 FA Cup win at Nottingham Forest, United lost again. This time, in less surprising circumstances, they were beaten 3-1 in the derby at Manchester City.

It left Ten Hag's side 11 points off fourth-place Aston Villa and six behind Tottenham Hotspur in fifth, having played one game more than the latter.

United enter the final 11 league games of the campaign as firm outsiders to return to Europe's premier competition.

And Brown, speaking with LiveScore Bet, admits that it will be difficult now after the Fulham defeat evaporated United's ascendency.

"Yeah, it's important. Manchester United want to be in the Champions League. It's going to be very difficult now because we need to keep winning, but we need others to drop points," Brown told Express Sport.

"When you start this season, and we were in the Champions League, we got knocked out. One of your main priorities is to get into one of those positions to obviously qualify for the Champions League next season.

"And it's not saying that we can't do it this year, but it's going to be tight. We're going to have to go on a really good winning spell now, and hopefully, other teams will drop points.

"So, in that sense, it's been difficult. The Fulham game was probably one where you were really disappointed because we got ourselves back into it.

"And you're not expected to win every game, but as the home game, we would have thought we'd play a lot better and then obviously keep the pressure on and then I think you're in the mix.

"But losing that just sank a few of the fans, it just sank us a little bit, and it's going to take a lot now to really get back into the rhythm.

"But yeah, it is important. So again, it's not the end yet, but we have to really go on a run now."

Ten Hag is believed to be effectively on trial under United's new football regime led by Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS Sport. But his second season at the helm won't have convinced.

A failure to qualify for the Champions League - which Ratcliffe has publicly admitted is crucial for Financial Fair Play - could prompt INEOS Sport to make a change.

David Moyes was sacked after the top four became out of reach before Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were dismissed in seasons United went on to fail to quality.

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