Ten Hag Attributes Varane’s Absence to Maguire’s Form at Manchester United

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Manchester United’s manager, Ten Hag, has disclosed that Raphael Varane’s absence from the playing XI is a strategic decision influenced by the formidable form exhibited by Harry Maguire.

Manchester United’s manager, Erik ten Hag, has dismissed concerns about his relationship with Raphaël Varane, attributing the Frenchman’s recent absence from the starting lineup to Harry Maguire’s outstanding performance.

Despite being the primary central defender last season, Varane has found himself on the bench for three of the last four games, including the team’s 3-0 defeat to Manchester City in the derby.

Ten Hag clarified that the decision was tactical, emphasizing the strong partnership of Maguire and Jonny Evans.

“Last year Harry didn’t play a lot, so I was very happy with Rapha’s performances. I have always been happy with his performance. But in this moment, Harry is playing very well and there is internal competition.”

Manchester United’s defender, Jonny Evans, will be sidelined for the upcoming Premier League clash against Luton Town at Old Trafford due to a thigh strain, as confirmed by the club on Friday.

Evans is expected to be out of action for the next few weeks. With his absence, manager Erik ten Hag faces a selection dilemma, having to choose between Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, and Victor Lindelöf for the defensive lineup.

Despite Varane and Maguire pairing up in the recent 4-3 defeat to FC Copenhagen, Ten Hag suggested they may not be the optimal defensive partners.

“There are moments in certain games where they can play together and they have already proven they can do it,” said the United manager.

“But the buildup is not that fluid when one of them is playing from the left centre-back position because I think Licha [Lisandro Martínez], obviously, Luke Shaw, obviously, Jonny Evans and Victor Lindelof, they are right-footed, but they can play really comfortably with their left and make the right angles, then you can construct a better formation where you can start to play.”

Last season, Manchester United secured the highest number of clean sheets in the Premier League. However, defensive challenges have plagued them in the current campaign.

Under Ten Hag’s leadership, the team has conceded 30 goals in 17 games, including 10 in their last four matches. The Dutch manager attributes part of the struggle to a substantial injury list but acknowledges that the available players should be delivering stronger defensive performances.

“Every time you have to swap your back four, it is difficult,” said Ten Hag.

“We had a new keeper coming in and every time you form a new back four and they know the rules and principles, but the routines are not the same.

“Communication is so important, but that is all split-second decisions. You need that cooperation and you need it 100% because when it doesn’t work, then you concede goals at this level.

“So far, I think we could almost never play the starting XI I wanted. But that is never an excuse. We want to win games and we have good players across the squad and they can all do the job.”

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