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Steve Bruce uses Jonny Evans example to highlight Manchester United’s injury woes under Erik ten Hag

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Steve Bruce uses Jonny Evans example to highlight Manchester United's injury woes under Erik ten Hag

Steve Bruce comments on unprecedented injury issues at Manchester United last season that Erik ten Hag had to deal with

Former Premier League boss Steve Bruce has used Jonny Evans as an example to highlight the injury problems at Manchester United under Erik ten Hag.

The Red Devils recorded their lowest-ever Premier League finish last season and are yet to decide whether to sack Erik ten Hag this summer. New minority owners INEOS are conducting a thorough end-of-season review before deciding on the Manchester United boss’ future.

Ten Hag’s team selection, routines, tactics and consistent style of play were disrupted throughout the past campaign, with the defence particularly affected.

He fielded 15 different combinations in central defence due to a shortage of options, leading to Manchester United conceding 58 goals in 38 Premier League games. Jonny Evans, 36, signed on a free transfer last summer as purely a squad rotation option, ended up playing 30 games across all competitions—including 23 in the Premier League.

Steve Bruce picked the Northern Ireland international’s involvement during the past season as an indicator to dig deep into Man United’s lack of quality squad depth.

When discussing Ten Hag’s future and the amount of injuries he has had to deal with throughout the 2023/24 campaign, Bruce told talkSPORT: “I do believe Ten Hag has been hamstrung with injuries. When I read something like 14 different defensive partnerships, I mean it’s in the back, you know the injury crisis at centre-back.

Jonny Evans re-joined Manchester United on a free transfer last summer. (Photo by Matt McNulty/Getty Images)

“I think Jonny Evans who was probably brought in to be fifth or sixth choice played more than anybody else, which tells you the problems. No, just respect to Jonny for being terrific towards the end of the season we’re seeing. So there have been problems, I think he (Ten Hag) has been hamstrung with injuries, you know but the way he has shown resilience, especially in the week in the build-up to the FA Cup final. I do believe he has shown great dignity.”

A chronic injury crisis caused Ten Hag to name 32 different lineups this past season—enough to disrupt any football team’s progress in the world. It is at the back where we were hit the hardest with Martinez and Varane’s absences being the most serious blows.

In the forgettable 4-0 defeat to Crystal Palace at the start of May, only 12 outfield players were fit enough to be named in the squad by the manager, of whom Evans started regardless of not being 100 per cent fit. This proved the veteran defender’s character and mentality to go through the pain barrier and put his body on the line for the team’s cause in the most difficult of times.

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That said, Bruce is spot on with his analysis of Man United’s unprecedented injury concerns that led to a poor campaign under Ten Hag.