Alamy Stock Photo Harry Maguire looks dejected during tonight's match.
talking point
Shades of Brentford debacle as Man United implode again
A disappointing display saw the Red Devils knocked out of Europe by Sevilla.

THE MORE things change, the more they stay the same.

First, a word on the remarkable Sevilla.

For a club with a limited budget, destined to play second fiddle to Real Madrid and Barcelona in Spain, their achievements over the past two decades have been truly remarkable.

No team in history has triumphed in the Europa League (or Uefa Cup as it was previously known) on more occasions than their six trophy wins, despite only prevailing in the competition for the first time in 2006.

By comparison, the next best is three wins, a feat shared by Liverpool, Juventus, Atletico Madrid, and Inter.

And after overcoming Man United convincingly tonight, José Luis Mendilibar’s men are three games and two rounds away from winning the trophy for a seventh time.

Progress, however, was made all too easy by a Man United team who were thoroughly complicit in their own downfall.

BT Sport’s commentary team compared the Red Devils’ lifeless, error-strewn display to last month’s 7-0 humiliation at Liverpool.

Really though, a more apt comparison would be the 4-0 hammering by Brentford at the start of the season.

Take a look at the video below and consider the parallels with this evening.

The opening goal comes about as a result of a mistake by David de Gea.

The second sees De Gea play a United teammate into trouble — in this instance, it’s Christian Eriksen as opposed to Harry Maguire, who was badly caught out for Sevilla’s opener tonight by gifting them possession close to his own area.

Those who felt Erik ten Hag had solved the club’s problems simply by selling Cristiano Ronaldo and buying Casemiro were misguided by this evening’s shambolic display, among others in recent weeks.

They have dropped points in three of their previous six Premier League fixtures and are now out of a competition that many pundits were suggesting they were favourites to win.

Triumphing in the Europa League would have gained them automatic entry into the Champions League, but they must now rely on a top-four Premier League finish to achieve that outcome.

Despite their recent stumbles, the Old Trafford outfit still look very likely to find themselves in Europe’s premier club competition next year — they sit six points ahead of fifth-place Tottenham with a game in hand.

Yet a top-four finish would be as much due to the relative weakness of those around them as opposed to merely reflecting their excellence.

Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool have all had poor seasons, paving the way for United to find themselves in third place almost by default.

Tonight seemed to highlight that Ten Hag’s squad is not good enough to compete at the highest level.

The enforced absence this evening of first-choice players such as Bruno Fernandes, Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez was felt.

A half-fit Marcus Rashford was introduced at half-time, while the alternatives up top this season like Anthony Martial and Wout Weghorst have done little this season to indicate they are suitable players for a club of United’s ambition in the long-term.

De Gea’s future will also surely come under renewed scrutiny, given that the vastly experienced 32-year-old goalkeeper could have done better for all three goals.

Yet to single out individuals seems somewhat unfair as the Red Devils were poor across the board this evening.

They struggled with second balls, committed too many individual errors, were outfought and out-thought by the team currently 13th in La Liga, who lost one manager — Julen Lopetegui — to Wolves this season and have only just sacked another – Jorge Sampaoli — last month.

The visitors dominated possession with 62% but their inefficient attacks were in stark contrast to Sevilla’s eye-catching, lightning counters, and the hosts ended up with twice as many shots on target and were well worth the 3-0 victory ultimately, and it could have been more if United had not been saved by a tight VAR call.

Under their Dutch coach, the English side have made forward steps overall this season with some smart recruits and a League Cup trophy in their cabinet, but most of the recent evidence suggests they are still well off sides of the calibre of Manchester City and Arsenal.

The only positive this evening, as United legend Paul Scholes noted on BT Sport, will be that Ten Hag has surely now definitively made his mind up on certain individuals whose future at the club was already under significant threat.

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