Manchester United midfielder Erik ten Hag believes Casemiro is fully fit amid midfield struggles
Erik ten Hag has rejected the claim that Manchester United midfielder Casemiro is experiencing fitness issues in the early stages of the new season. He has continued to defend the midfielders even after their recent struggles.
The Red Devils have had a disappointing start to their Premier League campaign, with a fortunate victory against Wolves followed by a 2-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.
Concerns have been raised about United’s midfield, as both Wolves and Spurs have created numerous scoring chances.
Several pundits, including former players Dimitar Berbatov and Gary Neville, have pointed out United’s No. 6 woes and the need for additional players.
Liverpool icon Jamie Carragher also went in hard against Casemiro’s poor start to the season.
However, Ten Hag has continued to defend his midfielders, particularly Casemiro, and his fitness-related concerns.
Ahead of the pre-match conference, the gaffer was thrown a straight question about his team’s weakness in the centre of the field. However, as quoted by the club’s official website, the manager has a different explanation for the same:
“It’s not about the midfield, it was about the back and it was about the front and that’s why we were open. Nothing to do with the midfield, but I already said that straight after the game.”
When asked about Casemiro’s recent criticism and fitness concerns, he said:
“If you see the numbers, you see he’s fully fit. Of our fitness, I don’t have any doubts they can do it but after 35 minutes against Spurs, they didn’t do it anymore.”
The manager has continued to stick with the same answer that he provided after his side’s recent defeat against Tottenham.
With just two games played in the season, United’s performance has fallen significantly short of expectations, mainly due to the challenges players are facing in adapting to the manager’s tactical requirements.
Similar to the situation a year ago, when they experienced troublesome losses to Brentford and Brighton during Ten Hag’s initial tenure, United are once again facing intense scrutiny.
In their first league match against Wolves, the Red Devils had a stroke of luck, allowing 23 shots but managing to secure a somewhat fortunate victory.
Although they started brightly against Tottenham, in the second half, they were overwhelmed by a dynamic Ange Postecoglou-led team.
The team’s problematic midfield is receiving substantial criticism from both fans and pundits, particularly regarding the signing of Mason Mount and Casemiro’s below-par performances.
In contrast to the previous year, when Ten Hag found a nearly ideal short-term solution with the addition of five-time Champions League winner Casemiro, the club is currently struggling to identify effective solutions.
Things are surely not clicking, and any shrewd observer will take note of the fact that the primary reason behind the recent struggles is not only due to midfield issues.
Mount and Bruno Fernandes have continued to play higher upfront in order to fill the wastefulness of the attackers. This has led to fewer legs in midfield and, hence, more space to exploit for opposition attackers.
The problem can be solved if the current front-line attackers don’t waste their chances and show mobility inside the box.
Meanwhile, Casemiro looks fit at the moment, although fans initially pointed out that the Brazilian looked out of shape during the pre-season preparations.
However, this doesn’t conclude that the player has been facing fitness concerns since he is starting every game again and again.
Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that Casemiro had a somewhat slow start to last season after his late transfer.
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However, after a few games, he put in an outstanding performance. Hopefully, he will soon return to his peak form, dispelling any criticism that might be considered an overreaction.
United’s next game against Forest will provide a chance for the manager to experiment with a new midfield combo this season, and who knows, that might provide some stability to the current setup.