Erik ten Hag has admitted that injuries have had a ‘negative effect’ on Manchester United this season but insists a fully fit squad can ‘beat any’ Premier League opponent.
After a positive debut campaign at Old Trafford, the Dutch manager has been dealt a more difficult hand so far this term, with a major injury crisis causing different problems.
United have not only experienced a large number of their players receiving injury setbacks, but often those players have been in similar positions of the pitch.
Currently, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Lisandro Martinez are unavailable, leaving just two fit centre-backs at Ten Hag’s disposal. Earlier in the season, they had to move new signing Sofyan Amrabat to left-back because all three of Luke Shaw, Tyrell Malacia and loanee Sergio Reguilon were injured.
There have also been problems on the right wing and in midfield during periods of the season. Ten Hag believes that this has ‘hurt’ the team throughout the campaign so far.
“I think what has definitely hurt [us] was we had, in crucial positions, we had the problems, like now, we are [in] with centre-backs. And so many centre-backs, not only one, there are more injured or are ill,” he told reporters.
“Left full-back, we struggled for a long time in the season because both were injured in Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia. Then, on the right wing, we had our problems, with the problems around Antony we had there, but also [Amad] Diallo, in the same moment, injured.
“We struggled a lot in such key positions. Don’t forget, Casemiro is a huge impact player for us and he is now, over a long period, not available.”
Last month, the club launched an investigation into the injury crisis experienced at Old Trafford. Recent reports have suggested that Ten Hag’s training methods could be one reason behind the increased number of muscular injuries.
Ultimately, though, United will be playing less football for the remainder of the season following their exit from two of the four competitions they compete in. Last term, they played a staggering 62 games.
With many injured players believed to be set to return in January – a month where United play just two games – Ten Hag is confident that he will be able to turn things around with a fully fit squad.
“You have to deal with that [injury crisis],” he added. “But everyone understands when you have such key players who are not available, it will have a negative effect on results.
“Still, we are in a place where we can change this story, change this season. I am confident when the players are back, we will have a good and strong squad.
“Liverpool [last weekend] were top of the league so we were competitive with them. We were also competitive with Arsenal at the start of the season. This team, this squad, is strong when everyone is on board and we can beat anyone.”
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