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Man Utd play like they're battling relegation under Erik ten Hag - and FA Cup exit would prove his 'right direction' claim is completely ludicrous

Erik ten Hag fooled everyone into thinking Manchester United had turned a corner after a strong start to 2024, with four successive Premier League wins taking them back to within sight of the top four. Results started to turn after he welcomed key players back from injury, just as he predicted would happen, and talk of his potential dismissal died down.

But all the problems that were masked by individual moments during that mini-resurgence came rushing back to the surface when Fulham arrived at Old Trafford on Saturday. The Cottagers emerged with a 2-1 victory, their first at the Theatre of Dreams in 21 years, thanks to a 97th-minute strike from Alex Iwobi.

It was only the second time Marco Silva's side have won away all season, but they fully deserved the three points after slicing through United's midfield at will. It was the hosts' 10th Premier League loss of the season, one more than they recorded throughout the entire 2022-23 campaign, and it leaves them eight points behind Aston Villa in the race for the final Champions League spot.

Nottingham Forest are up next in the fifth round of the FA Cup, and they will fancy their chances of repeating their 2-1 win over United - achieved at the City Ground in December - mainly because Ten Hag is still refusing to budge on a set of principles that makes his team far too easy to play against.

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