Manchester United is where big stars go to struggle as Champions League exit to Atletico Madrid proves

Manchester United looked like they would cruise past Atletico Madrid in their Champions League clash on Wednesday night, but could only manage a 2-2 draw. Despite the fact that it was an important result for them at home and one which bodes well for their progress into the knockout rounds of this season’s competition, there are some big problems with Manchester United right now.

Manchester United was knocked out of the Champions League in a disappointing manner by Atletico Madrid. The match ended 2-1, with the final goal coming from Antoine Griezmann. Read more in detail here: manchester united vs atletico madrid.

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom — Manchester United plays a major game, their best players underperform as they are outfought and outthought by their opponents, and they lose as certain as night follows day. The 1-0 Champions League triumph by Atletico Madrid at Old Trafford, which eliminated United from the championship in the round of 16, was just the same old narrative.

You’ll also be aware of the following statistics: Since 2011, United has only won two Champions League knockout ties, and there hasn’t been a home victory in the knockout stages since 2014. They have only scored one goal at Old Trafford after escaping from the group stage since their 3-0 triumph over Olympiakos under David Moyes eight years ago.

Renan Lodi’s 41st-minute goal on Tuesday was just the latest hammer blow for modern-day Manchester United, a European heavyweight that has been pushed to the canvas more times than they like to remember since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

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With United, there are no shocks anymore, just ruthless predictability. They wilt when the heat is on, and it will take more than a new manager and another so-called “culture reset” this summer to put the brakes on the club and steer it in the correct path. But how did we get here? United has spent £1.4 billion on transfers in the last ten years, with only Chelsea and Manchester City spending more. In exchange for their investment, those two teams have won a slew of big trophies, but United has been without silverware for the last five years, dating back to its success in the 2017 Europa League under Jose Mourinho.

Spending money is one thing; making it pay off is quite another, and United’s inability to do so against Diego Simeone’s Spanish champions on Tuesday was a major role in their elimination.

United’s £89.1 million midfielder Paul Pogba began the club’s most important game of the season on the bench because interim manager Ralf Rangnick doesn’t trust the France international to be defensively disciplined enough to play in a two-man midfield.

And, despite the club pursuing a late equalizer, captain Harry Maguire, the world’s most expensive defender at £85 million, was removed to the delight of United supporters in the final seconds because Rangnick decided it was a better bet to pull him off and replace him with midfielder Juan Mata.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka, a £50 million right-back, did not even start, but the former Crystal Palace defender has only played six occasions since Rangnick took over in December because he is considered a liability with the ball at his feet.

Marcus Rashford, who was nurtured via United’s junior system and cost the club nothing, has now become one of the club’s brightest players. Despite this, he began the season on the bench following a long time of inactivity.

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Both Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer struggled to get the best out of Pogba — Mourinho dropped him for a loss against Sevilla at this stage four years ago due to his defensive shortcomings — while the rest of the team is now paying the price for a lack of coaching and development during Solskjaer’s three-year reign.

Many athletes are suffering from a deep-seated malaise, but this is hardly fresh news. During the disastrous times of Moyes and Louis van Gaal, the same might have been stated four years ago or even farther back.

Finally, United has evolved into a club that suffocates the brilliance and personality of its finest players, and nothing will change until that occurs.

Atletico were there to be taken, with Simeone’s club lagging behind the teams who reached the Champions League final in 2014 and 2016, but once they took the lead, their win was never in question since United kept to their dreadful script once again.

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