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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Rio Ferdinand urges Erik ten Hag to try out Manchester United duo in brand new positions

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As Casemiro gift-wrapped Arsenal’s only goal of the game at Old Trafford, ambling out of the backline while playing the visitor’s frontline comfortably onside, any remaining goodwill towards him from an irate Manchester United fanbase disappeared for good.

We’ve seen 40-something Sunday League plodders after a night on the Carling and the kebabs move quicker than the Brazil international. Another calamitous and seemingly half-hearted display from a man at the scene of the crime yet again only six days after that Crystal Palace capitulation.

And Rio Ferdinand, a man who knows a thing or two about what is required to play at the heart of an elite-level backline, is quickly losing patience. Erik ten Hag‘s decision to persist with Casemiro at centre-half, he argues, is doing far more harm than good.

Even with Lisandro Martinez, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw unavailable, surely there are better options at Ten Hag’s disposal, Ferdinand wonders. Even if all of the so-called ‘solutions’ require round pegs being stuck into square holes.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on January 1...

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Manchester United legend loses patience with Casemiro

“When is he going to take Casemiro out the backline? Why can’t (Sofyan) Amrabat play there or Scott McTominay?,” Ferdinand wonders, speaking on his Vibe with Five podcast on YouTube.

“If you see a few mistakes from somebody who hasn’t played there before, you think; ‘You know what, I’m not going to do this to you. I don’t care howe experienced he is, come on, lets get you out of there and back into the position you know’.”

Ferdinand feels Ten Hag may be missing a trick not utilising Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the centre. For all of the Englishman’s faults, Wan-Bissaka is far quicker and far more agile than Casemiro, with his recovery pace and those trademark slide-tackles two attributes most top-level centre-halves would love to have.

The 2008 Champions League winner also feels that Man United could utilise the versatile Sofyan Amrabat at right-back with Wan-Bissaka filling in centrally. Amrabat, a right footer, has done a respectable job on the left at times, after all.

“Aaron Wan-Bissaka can play there (at centre-back),” Ferdinand argues. “Play Amrabat right-back. That’s the most natural thing for me. Wan-Bissaka centre-back, Amrabat right-back, because he was happy to play left-back for a few games.”

  • READ MORE: Who is Rio Ferdinand? Age, Height, Wife, Children, Net Worth

Erik ten Hag future uncertain under Ineos

The biggest issue for Ferdinand, beyond the never-ending injury crisis and Casemiro’s rapid decline, is that Manchester United continue to look like what he rather brutally describes as an ‘uncoached team’.

It’s difficult to think of a solution to that problem, however, that does not require a change in the dugout. Of course, there is more truth to some than others, but it is no secret that Ineos are analysing a variety of different managers with Ten Hag’s future seemingly hanging in the balance after a record 14th defeat in a single Premier League season.

Incoming sporting director Dan Ashworth worked with one of those supposed Man United targets during his time with the FA, calling Gareth Southgate the ‘outstanding’ candidate when he was promoted from the Under 21s to the top job back in 2016.

Southgate’s contract expires after this summer’s European Championships. When quizzed by the BBC, however, the former Middlesbrough captain refused to be drawn on the speculation linking him with a move to Old Trafford.

“Well, for me, it’s not an issue and never has been,” Southgate says. “I have to deliver a successful tournament for England and there’s enough work involved in that. I think everybody would expect that’s where my focus should be.

“There will always be speculation about managers, because if you lose a couple of games, you’re in trouble. You win a couple of games and it is a different agenda.

“But for me, (Euro 2024) is a brilliant opportunity. We’re looking forward to the tournament.”

  • READ MORE: Every manager linked with replacing Erik ten Hag at Manchester United

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