Football Digest: Man Utd urged to give Ten Hag time he needs
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag faces a battle to maintain his dressing room’s belief in his vision after Sunday’s derby defeat sunk the season to a new low, according to reports. Ten Hag’s team selection against Manchester City was met with confusion among fans, and the feeling appeared to be mutual in his squad.
United have been struck by an unprecedented raft of injuries at the start of the Dutchman’s second season in charge.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia remain unavailable in defence, which has taken its toll.
But Ten Hag had Raphael Varane and Sergio Reguilon at his disposal on Sunday and chose to start Jonny Evans alongside Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof at left-back for ‘tactical’ reasons.
The head-turning decisions extended into midfield and attack. Ten Hag continues to bench Mason Mount just months after using £60million of his budget to bring him to Old Trafford.
Scott McTominay offered very little, as he often does at this level, while Christian Eriksen was just as ineffective ahead of Sofyan Amrabat.
And pushing Bruno Fernandes out of his natural position while leaving £85million winger Antony on the bench was just as baffling.
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Ten Hag got it wrong at the weekend, and some of his players reportedly let that be known during a post-match debrief at Old Trafford.
According to The Sun, Ten Hag ripped into his players for their second-half collapse in the 3-0 defeat to City after making them sit in silence and listen to their rivals’ celebrations.
However, it’s claimed that a few players had grievances to air themselves, having been left dumbfounded by some of the 53-year-old’s tactical decisions.
The decisions to snub Reguilon for Lindelof at left-back and Antony for Fernandes on the right wing particularly raised eyebrows.
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They are the first signs of resistance against Ten Hag’s decisions since he arrived at Old Trafford last summer.
Ten Hag enjoyed a stellar maiden campaign, ending United’s six-year trophy drought with the Carabao Cup and finishing third in the Premier League, sealing a Champions League return.
But a defeat to Newcastle United in a repeat of February’s final on Wednesday and a failure to win at FC Copenhagen next week would all but guarantee an early exit from both of those cup competitions.
A poor result against Fulham at Craven Cottage in between would seriously upscale the scrutiny that Ten Hag has fallen under in recent months – externally and, perhaps, internally.
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