Manchester United may have escaped with a win against Brentford last time out, but the team have been far from good so far this season, losing six times in 11 games across all competitions.
Manager Erik ten Hag can point to the fact that injuries and off-field controversies have robbed him of the chance to select his best starting XI so far this campaign.
But what has really been damaging for the team has been the form of their big-name players with Casemiro’s form a matter of concern for the Dutchman.
Initially, the manager struggled to pick the perfect midfield partner for the Brazilian but it has since emerged that the former Real Madrid man’s penchant for abandoning his post to join the attack is what is really letting the team down.
United’s Brazilian wish did not come true
He was substituted at half-time against the Bees and it is clear to see that he is a shadow of his former self.
Ten Hag had envisaged this happening due to the midfielder’s age and that is why he was adamant that the club needed to bring another defensive midfielder in during the summer.
Sofyan Amrabat arrived on loan on deadline day and has played only once in that position, filling up as an auxiliary left-back in the remaining games.
As per Premier League Brasil, United had another player in mind early on during the summer window — Gabriel Menino of Palmeiras.
The report stated that United had even agreed a deal with the Brazilian giants only for the move to break down due to a number of factors.
United’s need for a goalkeeper, then a striker followed by the the emergency left-back situation meant United could never prioritise the Brazilian’s arrival.
“PL Brasil found that, in the final stretch of the European summer negotiation period, Manchester United made an offer of 8 million pounds official for the versatile Gabriel Menino, a 23-year-old midfielder and defender of Palmeiras.
“The offer was even accepted by Leila Pereira, president of the Brazilian club. The Alviverde club showed a predisposition to negotiate for the athlete, who has not lived his best days. A series of factors on the English side, however, resulted in the deal’s collapse.”
United had other priorities in the summer market as mentioned above and hence a move never panned out. Interestingly, the player was being bought for his versatility.
Ten Hag likes his full-backs to invert and occupy the midfield slot, something Luke Shaw and Amrabat have done well when playing.
Why Gabriel Menino was perfect for ETH
However, both his right-backs — Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are not as adept at that. Hence, Menino would have been used as a right-back who would occupy the midfield slot when in possession.
“Highly recommended by the English club’s analysis department, however, Gabriel Menino was seen as the perfect element for the game plan that Ten Hag intended to implement throughout the season. The idea was for the team to start playing with full-backs inside, as midfielders at the base of the play, and free up the sideline for incisive wingers
“The Englishman Aaron Wan-Bissaka and the Portuguese Diogo Dalot, names on the right flank of Manchester United, do not meet these characteristics. Thus, the idea was to have Gabriel Menino, a native midfielder, as an option for a right-back builder.”
The likelihood of United revisiting a deal for the 23-year-old in January also looks bleak as the player has not exhibited the best form during the second half of the previous campaign.