Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag affirmed that limited opportunity for Raphael Varane is due to tactical reasons
Due to tactical reasons and Harry Maguire’s impressive form, Erik ten Hag relegated 30-year-old Raphael Varane to the bench. He has served as backup to Maguire and Jonny Evans.
Ten Hag chose Varane and Lisandro Martinez as his first-choice centre-back pairing last season. The Dutchman continued with the pairing during the beginning of the current season. However, both the France international and Martinez have sustained injuries that sidelined them for a long period.
Maguire took advantage of the situation and justified his place with impressive performances in United’s defence. Varane has failed to dethrone both Maguire and Jonny Evans, the emergency backup, since returning from injury.
Ten Hag told the press conference (h/t Manchester Evening News) that the situation of Raphael Varane is due to tactics. He said:
“It is about tactical reasons why I chose these partnerships. I think Harry and Jonny did well. What I said last year, Harry didn’t play a lot, so I was very happy with Rapha’s performances. I have always been happy with his performance. But in this moment, Harry is playing very well and there is internal competition.”
United signed Varane from Real Madrid for £41m during the summer of 2021 to bolster their defence. The 30-year-old has appeared in 74 matches for the Red Devils while contributing two goals and one assist.
The Athletic reported dissatisfaction within United’s squad as their top centre-back remained benched for “tactical reasons”. Ten Hag chose Evans, a short-term signing, over the France international who is a preferred first choice.
Critics, including fans and pundits, disapproved of Ten Hag’s approach following a public dispute with Jadon Sancho. The 53-year-old publicly called out the young English forward’s training performance, sparking controversy. There’s a consensus that addressing the matter in private could have prevented unnecessary attention.
Similarly, Ten Hag’s discord with Cristiano Ronaldo last season led to the Portuguese star’s departure. The fallout ended in Ronaldo exiting the club.
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The Red Devils have conceded 30 goals in 17 matches in all competitions while losing nine of those games. The turmoil in defence has played a crucial role in United’s nightmare season as they struggle to achieve minimum expectations.
It’s genuinely perplexing to witness Varane, a world-class centre-back, sidelined despite being in good physical condition. Nevertheless, the 30-year-old has better chances to feature in the game against Luton Town after an injury to Jonny Evans.