Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag explained his tactical approach that left Raphael Varane on the bench against Manchester City.
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag explained the tactical reason behind benching Raphael Varane during the Manchester derby. United lost the Premier League game 0-3 at Old Trafford as the Citizens dominated the host.
Ten Hag has received a lot of criticism this season for various situations that have hampered the Red Devils’ season. The Dutchman has failed to find the right balance in the squad as multiple areas are facing vulnerabilities.
The Red Devils have lost seven games out of 14 in all competitions this season while conceding 23 goals. United’s goal difference is currently in the negative as they lie in eighth position in the Premier League table.
Ten Hag illustrated the tactical reason for benching Varane, in his post-match press conference (h/t Manchester United’s official site). He said:
“When you face City, they will go up to press and then to play with Rapha [Varane, on the right] and Maguire over the left, that can give problems and then you end up only kicking long balls. He is, for me, better on the right, Harry, especially against teams pressing high and, second, is you have to step in over that side and that was our tactic – to step in over [Julian] Alvarez and get Sofyan [Amrabat] higher to get [the] press on their build-up and that’s why.”
Ten Hag has faced an injury crisis alongside poor individual performances during the current season. His first-choice centre-back pairing Varane and Lisandro Martinez have missed a lot of games due to injury.
United have struggled to play as a unit throughout the season, regardless of the tactical approach they implement. The Red Devils leave spaces and concede goals when they play a more adventurous style of play.
On the other hand, whenever United deploy a cautious approach like they did against City, they fail to create chances. The Citizens dominated possession, and the Red Devils relied only on limited counter-attacking opportunities.
United kept the most clean sheets last season while having an on-form Rashford provide consistent goals. However, they are missing their formidable defence while the likes of Rashford and Bruno Fernandes struggle to make any impact.
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We think many fans and experts won’t like Ten Hag’s reasoning for picking Jonny Evans over Varane as tactical. City are the biggest team in England right now and the bitter rival of the Red Devils. There is no good reason for not playing the best players against them unless there is an injury.