Erik ten Hag has explained why he fielded Harry Maguire over Raphaël Varane as Manchester United lost 3-0 against Manchester City.
Erling Haaland and Phil Foden both got on the scoresheet as the blue half of Manchester ran riot on their sworn enemy’s turf, with Erik ten Hag leaving Old Trafford empty-handed for the fourth time this season, across all competitions.
An hour before kick-off, when the line-ups for both sides were announced, many United fans were baffled to see Raphaël Varane on the bench with Harry Maguire starting on the right-hand side, with Jonny Evans occupying the left centre-back role.
Ahead of the fixture, Ten Hag explained that this decision was influenced by tactics and not fitness problems, with some suspecting that Varane’s injury struggles may be the reason for his appearance on the bench.
However, after the loss, Ten Hag went into further detail about this tactical decision, explaining that it was a reaction to the way Manchester City played, with Maguire more equipped than Varane to deal with the strengths of Pep Guardiola’s side.
“When you play City they will press and play with Rapha [on the right] and Maguire on the left, that can cause problems and you end up only playing long balls,” he said. “He [Maguire] is, for me, better on the right, especially against teams that press high.”
This decision, of course, did not pay off, with Erling Haaland’s brace and Phil Foden’s easy finish making light work of United, despite good performances from the likes of Andrè Onana and Rasmus Højlund.
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