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Huddersfield hara-kiri sums up Man Utd’s embarrassing season as top-four hopes end

16:03 BST 05/05/2019
Paul Pogba Huddersfield vs Man Utd Premier League 2018-19
United's dreadful 2018-19 season reached its awful nadir on Sunday as they drew 1-1 at Huddersfield to confirm their failure to secure a top-four spot

So now it’s official. Manchester United will not feature in the Champions League in 2019-20, consigned instead to Thursday night football in the Europa League.

And what a way to throw the towel in.

Their 1-1 draw against a Huddersfield Town side which had one win and one draw to their names in their last 24 matches, and were relegated as early as March, perfectly summed up where this Manchester United squad is right now.

Simply put, they were as awful at the John Smith’s Stadium on Sunday as they have been for far too much of this wretched season.

Scott McTominay struck early in the piece, firing a left-footed shot across the goal which Jonas Lossl should have dealt with easily but somehow managed to allow the ball to escape between his knees and into the back of the net.

For much of the first half United looked largely in control without ever seeming likely to pull away with a second goal or more. Having raced back to the halfway line after their opener as if hungry for a glut of goals in their bid to improve their goal difference, they played the remainder of the period like a team with more sedate intentions.

They looked to be actually picking up the pace somewhat early in the second half when the hapless and injured Alexis Sanchez was replaced by Tahith Chong, but it wasn’t long after that Huddersfield got an equaliser.

From a United corner, Lossl cleared with a long ball which Luke Shaw failed to deal with as it skipped past him and into the path of Isaac Mbenza. The wide man finished with a confident strike under David de Gea and United had paid for their lacklustre approach.

That they rarely looked able to create chances against one of the worst teams ever to set foot in the Premier League said everything you could ever wish to know about United, but Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville wasn’t about to let them off that easily.

“This is Huddersfield Town who have struggled all season. You watch them, they haven't got the quality, but I like watching them a lot more than the ones in the red shirts, to be honest,” said the legendary former United defender.

“At least you can identify with them. There’s nothing I like about this United team at all, it's just awful.

“As a manager, you want to like your team. I look at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, I can’t imagine he’s down there thinking he likes watching this lot - I don’t.

“This isn’t a team at all. It reminds me of the Tottenham group Pochettino inherited, with Kaboul, Adebayor, Capoue in, a group of individuals without any real spirit - he dismantled it piece by piece.”

Save for the fearlessness of Chong after his introduction, there was nothing to enjoy about this United performance but then that is entirely in keeping with a recent streak which has seen them record two unconvincing victories in 10 matches and squander countless chances to grab the initiative in a top-four race run by a bunch of utter incompetents.

A late Paul Pogba effort against the bar was as close as they came to salvaging a scrap of hope in the Champions League race but it would have been completely undeserving in the context of both this game and their lame effort to scramble into fourth.

Solskjaer had given them some hope of a top-four finish by March where it had appeared utterly unlikely three months earlier. But they have been little short of an embarrassment between March and May, and this was the worst afternoon of the lot.