After the World Cup ended, there was a feeling that Manchester United skipper Harry Maguire would finally get a chance to stake his claim in the first-team after his impressive performances for England.
That coupled with the fact that Erik ten Hag’s first-choice pairing of Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez would be involved in the final of the competition meant the club captain finally had the chance to impress the manager.
But as the fans found out, the Dutchman ended up playing Casemiro at the back alongside Victor Lindelof for the Burnley game before employing Luke Shaw alongside Varane for both of United’s Premier League encounters.
Why Shaw over Maguire
Ahead of the Bournemouth game, the manager was specifically asked about the change in defensive shape and why the Dutch boss preferred Shaw over his club skipper against Wolves.
“Of course, you have your ideas and a plan but sometimes it changes by circumstances like the illnesses for Harry and Victor,” Ten Hag said.
“Normally, they start in the games we have just played, but then Casemiro did well as a centre half (against Burnley) and then Luke Shaw did very well against Nottingham Forest.
"You have your ideas and a plan, but sometimes it changes by circumstances." 🗣️
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag was asked about his defensive options, including playing Luke Shaw ahead of Harry Maguire 👀⬇️ pic.twitter.com/bVmSj9stXS
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) January 2, 2023
“Also, you look at the game plan, the way we had to approach Wolves, and I thought it was the best match with Rapha and Luke.
“Especially we knew the speed of Wolves from the right side and we could cover that because we wanted to attack over the left side with our offensive game from Tyrell Malacia.
“That was a good fit and also in possession you can have better angles with the left foot.”
Dalot return soon
McTominay did play against Burnley in the EFL Cup but has since been sidelined while Dalot returned from World Cup duty with Portugal with an injury, which finally allowed Aaron Wan-Bissaka to receive some much-needed game-time.
“We have to see. Both were training yesterday and today,” Ten Hag said of Martinez and McTominay. “I’m quite optimistic that they can both return to the squad.
“Diogo Dalot also made good progress. We don’t want to take risks with anyone because we know there are many games to come and we need a full squad to cover all the games.”
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