Things are getting complicated for Manchester United all because of one result — the defeat at the hands of Real Sociedad in their Europa League opener.
Erik ten Hag knew how challenging it would be for his side in the months leading up to the World Cup with 13 games in little over a month’s time.
The Red Devils stumbled against Manchester City before regaining their footing against Everton. But ahead of their clash with Newcastle United, Ten Hag must be worried about the fatigue levels of certain players.
United forced to rotate less
If not for the Sociedad defeat at Old Trafford, Ten Hag might have opted to change things up more. But after his initial experiment went astray, the Dutch manager has decided against making too many changes from the start.
Diogo Dalot has started all games due to Aaron Wan-Bissaka‘s injury. Christian Eriksen was supposed to get an off-day on Thursday but was forced to come on in a bid to help his side get over the line.
Their best defender of the season Lisandro Martinez has been forced to play all the games due to the struggles of his peers.
His initial plan was always for his side to blow the opposition away in the first-half or within the first 60 minutes so that he could then make the necessary changes.
Ten Hag on only making three changes: " I want to keep the construction of the team. When you make too many changes often the routines go down and I want to avoid that. I want to keep the good constructions and also little bit rotate." [bt] #mulive
— utdcrib (@utdcrib) October 13, 2022
The away tie against Sheriff Tiraspol was not a problem due to no Premier League games being there at the weekend but the United boss was definitely not happy with his team after both Omonia Nicosia fixtures.
After resting certain big guns for the away tie, he was forced to bring on injury-prone Anthony Martial and top scorer Marcus Rashford to rescue three points while for the home tie, his team huffed and puffed their way to a last-minute victory which was secured after Eriksen and Jadon Sancho were thrown into the mix.
The new Europa League format incentivises finishing top by allowing them direct entry into the next round. Second place means United need to win an additional set of fixtures against Champions League dropouts to secure passage.
Goal difference will come into play and that is why Ten Hag had hoped for more ruthlessness in front of goal.
“One thing about football, you have to score,” he added. “I think this game had to be three or four-nil. The only thing that we were lacking was scoring goals,” the manager told MUTV.
With so many fixtures set to come post the World Cup, the former Ajax boss will definitely not want that to be the case.
United’s next Premier League game is against Newcastle United who last played on Saturday. And that means they will be well-rested for the big occasion.
As for the 20-time English champions, they will once again have to call upon the same set of players and 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo might once again have to lead the line in the space of two days.
United have crucial fixtures against Tottenham, West Ham and Chelsea to come with a home fixture against Sheriff sandwiched in between.
Ideally, the boss would have rotated his squad but there is a feeling that even for the Sheriff test, he will have to go with a strong line-up as he looks to secure direct qualification.
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