Erik ten Hag did not only see his Manchester United side exit the Champions League following defeat to Bayern Munich but also that his stubborn decision-making of late has been proven wrong.
Despite being guaranteed to finish top spot in the group, the visitors only had to deal with one shot on target all evening.
It was an expected performance against what simply is a better team than United. They didn’t lack effort on this occasion, but the quality left a lot to be desired in an attacking sense.
Defensively, however, there were actually some impressive performances and one particular surprising decision.
Andre Onana had his best performance in the Champions League, and whilst that’s largely because he didn’t throw the ball into his own net, it was an excellent passing display as he almost gave United a goal late on with a pass over the Bayern backline.
Harry Maguire continued to impress as well up until his unfortunate injury just before half-time. The England international was very solid for the majority of that first half.
Yet, it was four-time Champions League winner Raphael Varane who stood out in Manchester United’s defence. Who would’ve guessed it?
Not many actually, because no one believed the French defender would be re-introduced to the lineup for such a game.
Varane has been stuck on the sidelines for several weeks because Ten Hag simply doesn’t see him or Maguire as left centre-back options.
The manager has stressed the reasoning being for passing angles and the way they would defend on that side, but he went against that decision on Tuesday night and stated that it was because United would need to ‘defend very strongly’.
But, Varane impressed on the ball too, whilst playing in a position that Ten Hag claimed he could not to the level of Jonny Evans and Victor Lindelof.
Only Bruno Fernandes completed more progressive passes than Varane on the night, and the Frenchman made clear that he was comfortable using his left foot in the build-up.
Ten Hag will now be forced to start Varane with Maguire coming out injured, but the Frenchman should’ve been starting alongside the English defender for the past couple of months.
And his performance against Bayern showed that Ten Hag’s original reason for benching Varane does not hold much weight at all.
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