Defeat to Arsenal offered further evidence United only excel while playing on the break under the Norwegian

Last time Manchester United started a league season this badly at home, they finished 18th. Football has changed a lot since 1972 and nobody is suggesting they might face a relegation scrap this season but even as the warm glow of Wednesday’s 5-0 win over RB Leipzig lingers, domestic expectations are perhaps being recalibrated. United are already nine points off the top.

The obvious question, perhaps, is how United could have been so good on Wednesday, and yet so poor both against Chelsea last weekend and against Arsenal here. The answer perhaps lies in Isaiah Berlin’s division of the world into the foxes who know many things and the hedgehogs who know one thing. Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s United, clearly, are hedgehogs. There is one thing at which they excel: sitting deep, letting teams come at them, and hitting them on the break.

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