Erik ten Hag made the bold decision to start Jonny Evans over Raphael Varane in the Manchester derby. Now, the gaffer has explained why.
Manchester United’s horrific recent derby record continued at Old Trafford yesterday. The Red Devils were absolutely battered by the better team and deserved to lose more than by the 3-0 final score.
Erik ten Hag has to front up to the criticism. He made some very bizarre tactical decisions on the day – none of them went down well with fans.
From a personal point of view, the weirdest choice was to start Jonny Evans over Raphael Varane for tactical reasons. No disrespect to the Northern Irishman, but the two players are polar opposites. One is at the end of his career after leaving the club a decade ago. The other is a multiple-time Champions League winner.
I just couldn’t get my head around it and now, Ten Hag has explained his thought process, claiming that if Varane and Harry Maguire (two right-footed players), started the game, United would only end up playing it long.
Here’s what Erik ten Hag has had to say in full here:
“When you face City, they will go up to press and then to play with Rapha [Varane, on the right] and Maguire over the left, that can give problems and then you end up only kicking long balls.” Ten Hag responded, per ManUtd.com.
“He is, for me, better on the right, Harry, especially against teams pressing high and, second, is you have to step in over that side and that was our tactic – to step in over [Julian] Alvarez and get Sofyan [Amrabat] higher to get [the] press on their build-up and that’s why.”
Honestly, what is Varane thinking this morning? He’s one of the greatest defenders of his generation and he’s being benched for Evans in a Manchester derby, a free transfer, who was brought in for depth purposes and nothing else. It’s a crazy, crazy decision to make.
Perhaps it’s a pressure thing. Ten Hag is feeling the heat right now and there were some awful selection decisions made throughout the game yesterday. Maybe the Dutchman is getting a little desperate and trying to step out of his comfort zone, but it truly was a worrying afternoon at the Theatre of Dreams (nightmares!).
I have some sympathy due to the injuries that are decimating the squad right now, but a result like yesterday had been coming. We were fortunate to beat Sheffield United and Brentford in our two prior games.
What’s scary is that United haven’t played well in one league game this season. How long can this continue on for? This isn’t me calling for Ten Hag’s sacking, either. I still think he’s the right man for the job, but he’s got to start stringing some results and performances together soon.
Do you think there’s any reasoning behind what Ten Hag is saying? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below.