Manchester United are officially out of this year’s UEFA Champions League tournament after a 1-0 loss to Bayern Munich in the final group stage game, a result which saw them not only exit the competition but break yet another unwanted record under Erik ten Hag.
With just four points in six games to their name, Man United have officially recorded their worst-ever Champions League performance in club history.
Despite having scored 12 goals over the course of half a dozen matches — the same amount as Bayern, whose single goal on Wednesday night was enough to bury any hope of the Reds remaining in Europe — they also conceded 15, the most by a Premier League side in any group stage of the competition.
It’s also only the second time ever they have finished bottom of their group; the last time they did so was in the 2005/06 season, taking six points and only coming last after conceding two more goals than Lille.
To make that stat even more damning, only two other English sides (Manchester City and Blackburn) have ever finished bottom of their UCL group, making United the only team to have now picked up that unwanted record twice.
Having only returned to the top-flight European competition this season, fans were by no means expecting anything miraculous but will have certainly been hoping to make it through to the knockouts. However, history since Sir Alex Ferguson shows that even that isn’t always a given anymore.
The Red Devils have now been knocked out in the group stages in three out of the seven seasons they have spent in the Champions League since Fergie retired — the same number of times that happened in his entire tenure — and have only made it as far as the quarter-finals.
But the stats just keep coming, as the defeat against the Bundesliga giants also marked their 12th in all competitions, the same number of matches they lost in the entire 22/23 season. Unfortunately for Erik ten Hag, it seems Man United’s long list of unwanted records just keeps growing at the minute.
The manager insisted that he thought many of the performances on Wednesday were good but did admit that they “didn’t lose it today”, i.e. having thrown away multiple 2-0 leads in the previous fixtures and making result-defining errors throughout this year’s Champions League campaign.
Having finished bottom of the group, this also means that they won’t be playing in UEFA’s second-rate competition, the Europa League, for the rest of the season either and with now just the FA Cup and a very tall order of the Premier League to fight for, the chance of consecutive silverware looks slim.
United might have been the most in-form team in the Prem a few games back but now that stat belongs to their historic rivals, they’re even more injury-riddled than they were a week ago and they’ve had more than a few disappointing derby days at home of late, let alone on Merseyside.
Featured Images — Manchester United (via Instagram)
Man United striker Rasmus Højlund set to miss Manchester derby as muscle injury rules him out for ‘two to three weeks’
Man United have suffered a pretty big short-term blow as their in-form forward Rasmus Højlund has been diagnosed with a muscle injury which is set to see him out for “two to three weeks”, meaning he will likely miss the upcoming Manchester derby.
The Danish striker has been running red-hot of late, scoring seven in his last six league games for Man United and now sitting as the club’s top marksman with 13 goals and two assists across all competitions, but just as Erik ten Hag’s side look to have got going, they will now be without him for a spell.
Issuing an update on Friday, 23 February, United confirmed that a muscle injury is “expected to rule him out for two to three weeks”, meaning he will miss this weekend’s fixture against Fulham, the FA Cup fifth round against Nottingham Forest and most likely the Manchester derby.
The Red Devils are currently unbeaten in 2024 and on a run of six wins out of their last seven, with Højlund making the difference in many of them.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s game at Old Trafford, ten Hag went on to explain: “It is a small injury. That is what happens and the risk [when you are] playing at high intensity and training.”
The Dutchman reiterated, “As I say it is not a big injury, but he has to wait for one, two, three weeks”, though Reds will nevertheless be gutted to see the 21-year-old sidelined after having now started finding the net and putting together such an impressive run of performances.
While he emphasised that it is not a “big injury”, the timing couldn’t be more frustrating for a team that looks to be finally gathering some momentum, not only in and around the European places already but right on the trail of those chasing down the Champions League spots.
Højlund’s injury only adds to the club’s ever-growing list of players on the physio’s bench, including Tyrell Malacia, Mason Mount, Lisandro Martinez and another huge setback in Luke Shaw’s long-term hamstring problems.
In contrast, Manchester City have been lofted by comebacks from both Erling Haaland, who is getting back on the scoresheet once again, and midfielder maestro Kevin De Bruyne as they look to step up the pressure on league leaders Liverpool.
The treble-winners were always going to be putting in a very strong title defence but the return of KDB has reminded football fans just exactly how good he is. The Belgian was left on the bench against Brentford due to “minor niggles” but you can fully expect him to be raring to go come derby day.
Stockport County create a new community mural with young street artists in Edgeley
Stockport County is creating a brand new mural with a group of young street artists from the local area and a little help from one of their squad members.
This past February half-term, the Greater Manchester football club enlisted the help of some schoolkids and aspiring artists, along with local creatives from around the area to create a brand new piece of artwork right in the heart of the community.
With some paint, plenty of spray cans and the expertise of Manc muralist and designer, Oskar With A K, and poet Ruth Awolola, a dozen local secondary school pupils helped write, design and paint the mural — taking inspiration directly from the club and the thriving fan culture in Stockport.
There is no chant more iconic and important to the Hatters than their famous ‘The Scarf My Father Worse’ song and that’s exactly what the local artists have decided to immortalise.
The painting process began on Friday, 16 February and, as you can see, they even managed to rope in County defender Ethan Pye came along to lend a hand with the mural, armed with a can of spray paint to help the young people bring their ideas to life.
Being developed by the Stockport County Community Trust in collaboration with North West organisations, GRIT Studios and The Writing Squad, ‘The Scarf My Father Wore’ project has received £14,800 from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
Popping in a prime location on the corner of Castle Street and Mercian Way — just metres away from the Edgeley Park stadium and right at the beginning of the local village high street — this vibrant work of art will be passed by thousands of commuters and pedestrians every day.
Being brought to life in brilliant blue and white in line with the club’s colour scheme and proudly printing the title of the famous chant on the wall along with stencils of the County crest, footballs and many other details, it sits pride of place in the Stockport suburb.
Much like the historic chant and the symbolic scarf itself, this brilliant piece of street art will be passed down and enjoyed by generations to come, as well as make sure the club continues to play a key role in local culture.
County’s Community Trust CEO Alison Warwood said: “This project shows how art and writing by young people can make a real difference to the local community, and I can’t wait to see the end result.”
John Macaulay from GRIT Studios added: “We’re thrilled to be involved in such a collaborative and community-spirited initiative. Our young artists will be helping to create a lasting landmark that will become a focal point in Edgeley for years to come.”
With the Hatters currently top of the League Two table and looking at yet another promotion season, there feels like no better time for fans to wear the club on their sleeve, their scarves around their necks and now up on the wall too.