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Galatasaray piles more misery on Erik ten Hag with stunning Champions League win over Manchester United

By Matias Grez, CNN

(CNN) — Boos echoed around Old Trafford once again as Erik ten Hag led Manchester United to yet another home defeat, this time losing 3-2 to Galatasaray in the UEFA Champions League.

At this stage, boos are becoming more common than cheers at the Theatre of Dreams with the team now losing three of its last four matches on home soil.

United did look improved at times when going forward against Tuesday’s Turkish opponent, but the defensive frailties – at times bordering on the comical – that have come to define ten Hag’s tenure were once again the team’s undoing.

Rasmus Højlund twice gave United the lead, but the advantage evaporated within minutes on both occasions as the men in red shirts fell asleep at the back, allowing former United player Wilfried Zaha and then Kerem Aktürkoğlu to level the score.

Things then went from bad to worse as another calamitous André Onana error – his second in as many Champions League games – gifted Galatasary possession, resulting in Casemiro fouling Dries Mertens to concede a penalty and earn his second yellow card of the match, leaving United with 10 men.

Mauro Icardi missed the spot kick but made amends minutes later when he scooped the ball brilliantly over Onana after being played through on goal, causing the raucous away end – which had been bouncing all night – to explode with delight.

Ten Hag said after the match that there were “no excuses” for United’s continuing woes.

“Maybe, we have a bit of an unbalanced left side, but then we still cannot make the errors we are now making,” he told reporters. “We have to do better, that’s the simple fact. We have to win our games.

“I have seen a team that was really connected, I have seen a team with a great spirit and they played fantastic for stages in the game. We scored good goals and twice we are totally in control of the game, and then all of a sudden we make a mistake, an error.

“I know football is a game of mistakes, but of course, I have to give coaching instructions on how we deal with those occasions and situations. It happens and we got punished for it.”

After finishing third in the league last season and winning the League Cup, there was increasing optimism among fans that this United team could take a step forward after another summer of big spending, even if it would still be some distance short of challenging for the Premier League and Champions League.

However, the start of the season has surely been worse than even the most pessimistic of United fans would have predicted.

The team is currently languishing in ninth place in the Premier League with just three wins from seven matches and is now bottom of its Champions League group and already facing an uphill battle to reach the knockout stage.

With six defeats in 10 games already, this is United’s worst start to a season since 1986 – before the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson was hired.

Former United defender and TNT Sports football pundit Rio Ferdinand admits the team’s woeful form is a cause for concern, but believes ten Hag should be given more time to build on the successes of last season.

“I’m not in the camp to say he should be relieved of duties at all, I still think it’s so early,” Ferdinand said on TNT Sports. “What he did last season, from where the club was and where he brought it to, was a huge job and he fulfilled what he was asked to do.

“But I do think the alarm bells are ringing right now. I said that before the game and this makes it even worse, it compounds that, so I think he needs to find a solution – quick. They’re probably one of the top two or three teams in terms of the amount of players they’ve used due to injuries and other reasons.

“[There’s been] a lot of off-the-field stuff that others wouldn’t have had to contend with in the history of the game,” the 2007/08 Champions League winner added, referring to situations with Mason Greenwood, Antony and Jadon Sancho. “But the team on the pitch is where you’re going to judge him and it’s not been good enough.”

Up next for United is a home fixture against Brentford, in what is now a truly must-win match for ten Hag.

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