The Dutchman’s Europa League Hits and Misses

Scott McTominay’s introduction as United midfielder has proven disastrously unwise. Not only has it cost United an established and talented player like Casemiro, it has created poor link up between midfield and attack and destabilised their central area; leaving Marcus Rashford isolated and vulnerable.

Ten Hag must solve his side’s attacking line woes to rival City head-on in future seasons; to do so he will need to reshuffle and rectify disconnections between different parts of the pitch.

1. Casemiro

Erik ten Hag was met with some suspicion when he took over at Manchester United in 2022, after failed moves for Frenkie de Jong and Adrien Rabiot were not completed in summer 2022. But these concerns were assuaged with the signing of Casemiro from Real Madrid for PS70m as one way of compensating for this negative reception.

Brazilian midfielder Lucas has been an unexpected star since Manchester United returned to the top of the table. Ten Hag aptly describes him as providing ‘cement between the stones’, helping his side win many trophies along the way.

His most crucial task is protecting United’s back four and winning back the ball when transitioning, as well as reading the game and breaking play up when in the middle. While De Jong may drive forward with his passing and set the tempo with his drive forward with the ball, Ten Hag is precisely the player United need to improve defensively – something they’ve been lacking since Ten Hag arrived.

2. Eriksen

Even after failing to break City down, Ten Hag’s decision to keep Eriksen in a more subdued role rather than switching him for Fernandes or Martial (who might have been contenders for an attacking midfield position) proved wise.

Former Ajax boss Ronald de Boer was an admirer of Denmark international Daniel Bjrnsson, whom he considered highly experienced with excellent leadership qualities and proven ability to fill multiple midfield roles – qualities which made him the ideal fit for United’s needs.

Eriksen has proven himself an effective scorer in the Premier League, boasting impressive ball-playing abilities and taking penalties when necessary. Eriksen should be able to fit into most areas of midfield this season if injuries plague Manchester United’s squad; but under Ten Hag his workload may prove an issue if injuries hit hard.

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3. Martial

Erik Ten Hag has experienced an up-and-down start at United, yet there have been positives to take from his tenure so far. One prominent change has been replacing Anthony Martial with Scott McTominay in an advanced role.

Error that led to disastrous consequences. Ten Hag is known for being quick at identifying when something is not working and responding promptly with solutions, yet here she was caught unawares by an unfortunate turn of events.

McTominay had impressed for Scotland during the international break and this decision seemed to be taken as a gamble; unfortunately it failed. United’s midfield was struggling to maintain possession while their attacks suffered against an unexpected soft underbelly; thus leaving Ten Hag with few solutions available to him.

4. Fernandes

Ten Hag is keen to put the 7-0 loss at Liverpool behind them and look ahead to this week’s Europa League quarter-final matchup with Real Betis, hence his decision to switch up some aspects of last week’s team that beat Real Betis – including moving Fernandes more centrally into their starting eleven.

Portuguese midfielder Andre Silva put behind him his Anfield horror show by scoring and creating two goals during Liverpool’s 4-1 win against Real Betis, however it is clear that former Porto star needs to learn how to better control his emotions on the pitch.

After several incidents that saw Fernandes heavily criticized by former players, Ten Hag has been coaching him to remain calm when the pressure is on. Ten Hag believes Portugal international could become even greater force by mastering how to control his emotions during matches.

5. Weghorst

Wout Weghorst of the Netherlands came close to dethroning Lionel Messi at his World Cup dream when he scored twice against Argentina in the quarter-finals. While struggling at Burnley in his previous campaign, this season Wout was prolific for Wolfsburg scoring 59 times in 118 appearances – pushing his goal-scoring form forward considerably.

Burnley loaned him out to United in January, and since then he’s become an invaluable addition for Erik ten Hag. Starting 18 of 18 games so far this term, his statistics speak for themselves.

He is an exceptional link-up player and his work rate is impeccable. He poses a threat around the penalty box and when running in behind an opponent’s defence.

Source: koora live