It was a rough start to life as a Manchester United manager for Erik ten Hag as he saw his team get thrashed in their opening two games against Brighton and Brentford.
United were expected to get the better of their opposition especially considering the kind of pre-season they had enjoyed. But it proved otherwise as the team played sluggishly and got deservedly punished for their half-baked efforts.
The fans were right to be worried ahead of the Liverpool game after seeing their side capitulate but the Dutchman made some bold calls ahead of Monday’s clash and those ended up paying dividends at the end of the full-time whistle.
One of the biggest calls the former Ajax manager took was to drop club captain Harry Maguire along with Cristiano Ronaldo. Raphael Varane joined Lisandro Martinez in defence and the centre-back pairing excelled throughout the game.
Maguire loses out on starting berth
The benchmark has been set and fans will now expect such performances on a regular basis and Ten Hag will likely stick to the same personnel when they come up against Southampton at the weekend.
No negotiations ongoing between Manchester United and Chelsea for Harry Maguire. He’s expected to stay at Man United and fight for his place, no different plans on clubs side too. 🔴 #MUFC
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 24, 2022
This means Maguire will have a tough task getting back into the starting XI but the manager has reassured everyone that he will need to rotate players due to the fixtures coming thick and fast.
The England skipper’s name being in the starting line-up was an absolute certainty under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer despite his mistakes. Interim boss Ralf Rangnick was the first to drop the former Leicester City man last season.
Ten Hag kept his faith in the 29-year-old and even kept him on as club captain but the opening two weeks necessitated a change in personnel.
Chelsea eyeing swoop
This uncertainty regarding his place has piqued the interest of Premier League rivals Chelsea and Nizaar Kinsella of the Evening Standard has suggested that the Blues might be looking at making an audacious swoop.
Thomas Tuchel is desperate for defensive reinforcements and Foxes centre-back Wesley Fofana seems to be their number one target. The French defender wants the move but Brendan Rodgers’ team have been playing hardball over the price.
So far, three of Chelsea’s bids have been turned down by Leicester as they hold out for more than the world-record fee for a defender which United had paid them for Maguire.
If the France U-21 international does not end up arriving, Chelsea will launch a late bid for the United defender. Despite his mistakes, Maguire still has a lot to offer and as of now, United have no inclination to sell as Ten Hag wants to use his four centre-backs on a rotation basis.
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