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‘Frightened’ Manchester United out of Europe with a whimper

Manchester United bowed out of Europe with a whimper as a 1-0 defeat to Bayern Munich rounded off a miserable Champions League campaign that has put Erik ten Hag’s future as manager in doubt.

United have lost 12 of their opening 24 games of the season – a run that has also ended their defence of the League Cup and sees them languishing sixth in the Premier League.

It is just the fourth time an English club has finished bottom of a Champions League group.

Only Manchester City in 2012 — in a tough section involving Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax – have ever taken fewer points than the four United managed in Group A.

The real damage was not done against the German champions, who were able to coast to victory despite having already qualified before their trip to England.

When the draw was made, many saw United cruising through along Bayern in a group that also contained FC Copenhagen and Galatasaray.

“It’s a huge club and not what you expect when you see the group,” said Bayern boss Thomas Tuchel. “You immediately expect Man United is challenging to win the group.”

But the three-time European champions won just one of four meetings against Copenhagen and Galatasaray, conceding 11 goals in the process.

In both away games they let two-goal leads slip away.

“To score three goals in each of their away games and not come away with much points, it’s criminal,” former United defender Rio Ferdinand told TNT Sports.

“You get what you deserve. If you’re not clinical or you can’t close matches out.”

However, there was no such threat on Tuesday as United mustered just one shot on target — a long-range effort early on from Luke Shaw that was easily saved by Manuel Neuer.

“I think it was a frightening performance more than anything,” said ex-United midfielder Paul Scholes.

“There was such a lack of goal threat.”

Worse to come?

After a promising first season in charge, Ten Hag’s tenure at Old Trafford is unravelling in its second year.

The former Ajax boss is struggling to battle the combination of an injury crisis, underperforming star names and reported dressing room unrest.

Worse could yet be to come before the end of the year for Ten Hag as his beleaguered side visit Liverpool and West Ham before hosting Premier League surprise package Aston Villa in the next fortnight.

Shaw and Harry Maguire had to be replaced due to injuries, adding to a lengthy list of key absences.

Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro missed the majority of the Champions League campaign.

Marcus Rashford was also unavailable against Bayern, but had been dropped by Ten Hag of late due to his miserable form.

“Why did this happen?” Ten Hag added. “We are losing players and losing players who are very decisive.

“In many games it was the case in this campaign that we didn’t have players available. That is a reason, but not an excuse.”

The decision to pursue the potential of Rasmus Hojlund instead of launching a bid for Harry Kane in the summer transfer window looks ever more questionable.

Kane failed to add to his 22 goals in his debut season at Bayern on Tuesday.

But the England captain was still influential as his pass set up the winning goal for Kingsley Coman. 

Hojlund is yet to score in the Premier League and has only netted in one of his last 13 United appearances.

However, Ten Hag called on the young Dane and the rest of his side to learn from a bruising Champions League experience and make sure they are back in the competition next season.

“There are still any things to play for. Now we can focus on the Premier League,” added Ten Hag.

“This is the level we want to play, the Champions League, so we have to give every effort to be in the top four so that next year we are back in the Champions League.

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