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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Erik ten Hag can stick to his Man United philosophy again vs Everton in FA Cup

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This evening’s clash with Everton at Old Trafford will offer Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag his first taste of the magic of the FA Cup. United will kick-off the third-round weekend, widely considered as one of the most exciting dates in the English football calendar, by looking to avoid a cup upset. Despite the Toffees being Premier League opposition, on paper it looks like being a total mismatch, such is the recent form and league positions of the two clubs. The Reds head into this evening’s tussle as overwhelming favourites to progress to the next stage of the competition, boosting their hopes of ending their trophy drought this season. They are still alive and kicking in both the Europa League and Carabao Cup, meaning they are in with a strong of chance of winning a piece of silverware in Ten Hag’s maiden season at the helm. READ MORE: Erik ten Hag is repeating Jurgen Klopp tactic at United Such is the importance of the Premier League, especially for those who have aspirations of qualifying for Europe season after season, the FA Cup is often used as an opportunity by managers to rotate their squads, hand out rare opportunities to players on the fringes of the first-team and bleed youngsters into the first-team environment. It has become such a regular theme in recent years that many managers have been described as showing a lack of respect towards the world’s oldest cup competition. Considering United’s ultimate ambition this season is to finish inside the top-four and secure a route back into the Champions League for next term, Ten Hag could be forgiven for choosing to rotate his squad this evening, saving his star attractions for next Saturday’s derby against Manchester City. But a quick recap of the starting line-ups the Dutchman has fielded in both the Europa League and Carabao Cup so far this season suggest that he will not be following the trend others have set in previous years. That is because Ten Hag, who guided United to a seventh successive home win with a 3-0 triumph over Bournemouth on Tuesday night, is yet to deploy what you would consider as a ‘weakened team’. Admittedly, he has made changes here and there, but he is yet to name a starting line-up filled with just youngsters and fringe players, granting his most senior figures a night off. The starting line-up he fielded against Burnley, who currently sit at the top of the Championship table, was much stronger than almost everyone anticipated, particularly as it was staged just a few days after the conclusion of the World Cup in Qatar. Nevertheless, the likes of Christian Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Casemiro all started. It has been a similar trend during United’s Europa League campaign so far, too. Even against minnows Omonia Nicosia and Sheriff Tiraspol, Ten Hag still named strong line-ups, featuring a plethora of big names. He has the respect for the cup competitions that they deserve. His approach to both the domestic and European cup competitions should not come as a complete surprise, though. In his very first interview as United manager, the former Ajax boss was quizzed on the importance of the cups, highlighting why he believes they are so important. Asked about the importance of them, Ten Hag said: “Important. For me, every game is important. We want to win every game and that has to be the attitude from everyone. “Players, but also staff and all the other ones in the club. Every game is important and we will give our best every game to win and to come forward.” At the time, you could have said that Ten Hag’s admission was a typical football cliche, such is the way managers, in their press conferences, always stress that every game is important and then, on the day of the game, make wholesale changes. The Dutchman, however, has so far stuck to his word, approaching every game of his tenure so far with a strong and star-studded line-up, each time having the ambition of winning, regardless of the competition or opposition. READ NEXT: All the latest United news, views and transfer updates Luke Shaw is an example of what Erik ten Hag wants at United Why James Garner will miss Everton’s trip to Old Trafford Erik ten Hag can give Joao Felix something he needs Jose Mourinho was right about Casemiro Story SavedYou can find this story in  My Bookmarks.Or by navigating to the user icon in the top right.

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