Finally, he gave his first start since that 4-0 defeat at Brentford – but this was a match that will raise further questions about his suitability for Ten Hag’s system.
It wasn’t that the Portuguese didn’t want to fit into Manchester United’s urgent play. The question is rather what that takes away from his natural qualities.
Ronaldo is one of the deadliest goalscorers of all time, but it was remarkable how insecure he was when he was in the penalty area.
He was fractions away from an early cross from Eriksen. He was then guilty of mischecking a through ball from the same player. A brilliant header seemed to have put Manchester United ahead, but he had to be in an offside position to get there. He then failed to convert another header from close range in the second half after Bruno Fernandes’ perfect cross.
If he could only focus on finding space in the box, would he be more decisive?
That is what Ten Hag has to ask himself.
Fred at No. 10:
The decision to play the Brazilian furthest forward in the first half was a curious decision from Ten Hag – especially for Eriksen.
While he worked hard behind Ronaldo, his ball handling was nowhere near good enough in that role.
His passing was too often loose, forcing Manchester United to concede possession.
He sank deeper as Fernandes came into the second half where he should have been all along.
This was what came down to his exploits against Arsenal.
Antony played on the periphery the whole time – seemingly more concerned with the threat posed by Aihen Munoz than with hurting Sociedad himself.
He didn’t look fit enough to burst into the danger zone, while his use of the ball rarely resembled opening for the visitors.
By the time he was knocked out in the second half, it felt like his manager’s mercy.