Man Utd suffered a humiliating 3-0 loss to Bournemouth at Old Trafford on Saturday; they must beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday and hope Galatasaray and Copenhagen draw to progress; United then go to Anfield on Super Sunday to play Premier League leaders Liverpool
Monday 11 December 2023 09:19, UK
Tim Sherwood described Manchester United's 3-0 defeat at home to Bournemouth as disastrous on Soccer Saturday - and it is a result which has heaped pressure on the club ahead of a defining week in their season.
Erik ten Hag had hoped to build positive momentum on the back of Wednesday's impressive win over Chelsea, when United put in their best attacking performance of the season.
But instead it was a big step backwards on Saturday, with a poor start to the game followed by an inability to break down their visitors. Further goals conceded in the second half increased the damage and the sense this inconsistent United side - booed off by their supporters - remain a long way off where they want to be.
If United's heaviest-ever Premier League defeat to a side starting the day in the bottom half of the table had alarm bells ringing, then what comes next looks daunting.
The week ahead could shape United's season at home and abroad - and it could perhaps be a significant one in terms of the future of Ten Hag, with investor Sir Jim Ratcliffe imminently set to take control of football operations.
Man Utd vs Bayern Munich - Champions League, 8pm kick-off, Tuesday
Manchester United's chance of qualifying from their Champions League group is out of their hands - but they will need to beat Group A winners Bayern Munich at home on Tuesday in their final fixture of the round to have any hope of progress.
They will then need Galatasaray to draw at Copenhagen in the group's other match. The odds aren't in their favour.
Defeats to Bayern, Galatasaray and Copenhagen have left United in this difficult position, with two Andre Onana errors as they threw away a 3-1 lead to draw in Turkey at the end of last month summing up their struggles in the Champions League this term.
There is some comfort for United supporters: Bayern suffered an even heavier defeat on Saturday than United's loss to Bournemouth. The German champions were hammered 5-1 at Eintracht Frankfurt. An incredible result.
But could that work against United? The expectation was Thomas Tuchel would rotate at Old Trafford, with top place in Group A secured. Instead, the Bayern boss may be demanding a reaction from his first team in Manchester…
Liverpool vs Man Utd - Premier League, 4.30pm kick-off, Sunday - live on Sky Sports
This one has been circled in the calendar since the fixtures were released in the summer. Liverpool vs Man Utd, the big one, live on Sky. But it holds horrible memories for the United players and boss Ten Hag after last season.
Seven-nil. A scoreline so heavy and unlikely it is spelt out on the vidiprinter.
A victory on that scale again is unimaginable but Liverpool have won all 11 Anfield fixtures this season and sit top of the Premier League table, rejuvenated this season.
Ten Hag said his players didn't fulfil their jobs after that stunning defeat in March. He begins the week leading up to the return to Liverpool saying his team's mentality must change.
Where will United - so inconsistent, so up and down - stand by Sunday evening? In the Champions League, Europa League or out? Reborn after revenge at Anfield or recovering from another damaging blow?
With this United team there is no way of knowing - but the next week is crucial.