If Manchester United have ridden their luck over the last few games, Saturday marked the point at which it finally ran out. José Mourinho’s side turned in an abject performance as they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat away at newly-promoted Huddersfield, gifting Manchester City the opportunity to pull five points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
There wasn’t much tactical ingenuity from the Terriers, but their outstanding defensive organisation ensured they were able to sit back and wait for United to make mistakes. And that they certainly did. The first came just short of the half-hour, when Juan Mata was caught in possession by Aaron Mooy on the halfway line. The Australian initially offloaded to Tom Ince, though converted himself after David de Gea denied the winger from close range.
The second error was even more glaring: a long goal kick by Huddersfield’s Jonas Lössl should’ve been comfortably dealt with by Victor Lindelöf — brought on early in place of the injured Phil Jones — though the Swedish centre-back inexplicably allowed the ball to bounce, affording space for Laurent Depoitre to nick possession, round de Gea, and tap home. United were shellshocked.
Mourinho used up his two remaining substitutions at halftime in a desperate bid to shake things up. Anthony Martial and Mata were withdrawn, Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan introduced. However, United continued to struggle going forward, barely creating a genuine opening before Rashford pulled one back with just over 10 minutes left on the clock. Some outstanding wing play from Romelu Lukaku culminated in a peach of a cross for the youngster to head home, and suddenly the visitors had hope.
Alas, a final barrage never really materialised, despite Chris Smalling’s deployment up top, and Huddersfield hung on for an unlikely — or perhaps, given recent results an all-too-likely — victory. Mourinho will surely now face an inquisition, and with good reason.