Axel Tuanzebe fails to grab his chance as United blow it

Axel Tuanzebe stepped in at centre-back to make his first Premier League start of the season.

It was an opportunity he has been waiting for, and it came as a reminder just why he is fourth choice.

Tuanzebe looked nervous at times, getting the ball caught under his feet, and appearing clumsy in and out of possession.

Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

He picked up a booking for a rash challenge at the end of the first half which needlessly gave away a free-kick in a dangerous wide area.


Gone was the cool, composed player who excelled against PSG. This was the Axel Tuanzebe who was hooked at half-time against Istanbul Basaksehir.

Déjà vu

United have suffered two truly awful results this season. Losing away to Istanbul Basaksehir was a defeat which cost us Champions League qualification.

The Turkish side lost five of six matches in the group stage, winning just this one against us.

Then last night we were beaten at home by a Sheffield United team who had accrued just one league victory all season.

These type of freak results are not a coincidence. It shows there is something worrying in United’s mindset in these matches.

Tuanzebe was a common denominator in both, unfortunately for him. He partnered Harry Maguire in both matches and United were shaky to terrible in each of them.

United felt the partnership of Tuanzebe and Maguire would be good enough. It was found lacking.

Not all his fault

It wasn’t Tuanzebe’s fault that United couldn’t find an equaliser in Turkey, nor was it here. The attack has to take plenty of blame too.

And there is plenty to go around, with Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford pretty woeful in attack. Mason Greenwood blew a clear chance at the start of the second half.

But when all is said and one, Tuanzebe will be disappointed to have played a role in a poor defeat.

The second goal deflected in off him, and he was one of several players who failed to close down or clear the ball effectively.

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

He has six bookings in 12 appearances this season, averaging a yellow card every 85 minutes. That doesn’t exude the confidence of a defender who is in control.

He needs to improve, and he will know it. The problem is, he now could have to wait a long while until another opportunity.

This was a chance for Tuanzebe to get into the mix for a regular first team spot, and now he is heading back to the sidelines unless there are more injuries.

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