Manchester United turned in another woeful performance as they went down 2-0 to West Ham United at the London Stadium on Sunday. Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side scarcely looked like scoring a goal in a dismal 90 minutes, as they wasted an opportunity to move up into the Premier League’s top four. Adding injury to insult, Marcus Rashford was forced off with what seemed like a muscular injury, and could well be set for a spell on the sidelines.
A tedious first half was largely bogged down in the middle of the pitch, with both sides lacking the ability and intent to seize the initiative. United’s best chance seemed destined to appear when Rashford sprung in behind centre-half Angelo Ogbonna, caught out in West Ham’s right-back position, but Rashford hesitated on his way into the box and allowed Declan Rice to sweep in and steal the ball before even registering an attempt.
Having seen the lion’s share of possession in the opening quarter, United soon appeared to tire. Rashford looked lethargic up top, and United’s only first half shot came when Nemanja Matić wellied a powerful but straightforward long-range effort into the arms of a grateful Łukasz Fabiański. At the same time, West Ham appeared to be growing into the game, and were soon stroking the ball around in United’s half.
However, when the Hammers broke the deadlock a minute before halftime, it was less the result of brilliant play than shockingly lazy defending. United afforded their hosts too much time to pick passes on the edge of the box, and in a flash Andriy Yarmolenko brought the ball down and drove a fine finish beyond David de Gea from point-blank range. It was a goal greeted by an overwhelming feeling of grim inevitability, as United were again punished for a performance of utter indifference.
The second half, at least initially, promised brighter, better things. A brilliant low cross from Andreas Pereira on the right curled tantalisingly away from Fabiański, though Juan Mata arrived at the far post too late and slid the ball wide.
Yet the faint promise was dimmed by Rashford pulling up with what appeared to be a hamstring injury just short of the hour. He limped off the pitch and down the tunnel, with Jesse Lingard replacing him up top. In the words of one astute tweeter, United were playing “without a recognised striker and largely without recognised footballers.”
West Ham could’ve killed the game off a couple of minutes later, and would have were it not for a smart de Gea stop to deny Felipe Anderson. At the other end, Harry Maguire was soon presented with a brilliant chance when a corner wound up at his feet, but his shot was turned away by Fabiański from point-blank range.
It took until the final 10 minutes, but eventually the Hammers did seal the points. A brilliant free-kick from Aaron Cresswell curled away from de Gea and into the top corner, and the hosts recorded a well-deserved victory. It hasn’t been fun being a United fan for the last few seasons, but this was surely some of the grimmest viewing of all.