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Erik ten Hag explains why he needs 13 Manchester United players to form a ‘stable’ starting XI

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag believes that he needs 13 core players to build a winning consistency

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag asserted that his team requires 13 core players to develop a consistent winning routine. The Red Devils have struggled with form this season due to many factors with the most prevalent being the injury crisis.

The left-back position is the most severely hit position with Tyrell Malacia sidelined since pre-season and Luke Shaw’s long-term injury. United signed Sergio Reguilon on a loan deal to fill the void but the Spaniard missed many games due to injury. The Red Devils have deployed Sofyan Amrabat, Victor Lindelof, and Diogo Dalot as make-shift left-backs to fulfil the requirement.

Regular first-team names like Casemiro and Lisandro Martine are not expected to return from their respective injuries before Christmas. Raphael Varane has suffered from nagging injuries as well, leaving Ten Hag without his first-choice centre-back pairing in many games.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag believes that he needs 13 core players to build a winning consistency.
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag wants at least 13 core players in his squad to build a winning consistency. (Credit: Javier Garcia/SHUTTERSTOCK)

Ten Hag told the press conference (Manchester United’s official site) that consistency can only be built with regular core players available. He said:

“What we have to work on is a stable starting XI, at least with 12 or 13 players. Getting more to starting XI, 12, 13 players, you can rotate so you get routines in the team. In this season so far, left-back and right forward position, we have to change a lot and then you swap the team, you don’t get the routines in, also the midfield balance is not there”

United have lost eight matches out of 16 in all competitions while conceding 26 goals and only scoring 21. Ten Hag has failed to build team chemistry and balance as United looked vulnerable all over the place.

Several football experts criticised the Dutchman for shunning the football philosophy that earned him success during his tenure at Ajax. Ten Hag has struggled to combine a particular style of play with the players he has in the squad. Nevertheless, the United hierarchy have backed him by giving complete authority in player recruitment.

United have struggled to score goals when they deployed a cautious style of play as their counter-attacking threats have failed. On the other hand, the Red Devils have left spaces in the back when they applied a more adventurous style.

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Ten Hag needs to find a way to fix things before their minimum expectation of reaching the top four becomes unattainable. The United hierarchy is completely behind the 53-year-old as United plays FC Copenhagen next in the Champions League. The Red Devils are third in the Champions League Group A and cannot afford an early exit from the competition.

Written by Siddharth Juyal

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