Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has given a bizarre reason behind starting Jonny Evans ahead of Raphael Varane in central defence against Manchester City on Sunday.
The Red Devils suffered a disappointing 3-0 Premier League loss to their arch-rivals at Old Trafford and speaking after the game, Ten Hag revealed why Varane was left on the bench.
The Dutch tactician said that he was wary of the high press from the Cityzens and he did not want to play Harry Maguire from the left hand side of the central defence.
Ten Hag emphasised that Maguire is better on the right especially against high pressing teams and the plan was to step in to negate the threat from Julian Alvarez.
He told Manutd.com: “When you face City, they will go up to press and then to play with Rapha [Varane, on the right] and Maguire over the left, that can give problems and then you end up only kicking long balls.”
“He is, for me, better on the right, Harry, especially against teams pressing high and, second, is you have to step in over that side and that was our tactic – to step in over [Julian] Alvarez and get Sofyan [Amrabat] higher to get [the] press on their build-up and that’s why.”
Ten Hag should have started with Varane in derby
Varane and Maguire tend to favour the right centre-back position, but the manager obviously had the preference to start the latter from the role against City.
With Maguire’s good form, it was the right choice but we would have still preferred him to be partnered by Varane instead of Evans, who is no longer in his prime.
Maguire had a difficult outing in the derby and he was not helped by Evans, who are more disappointing.
The Northern Irishman failed to win any of his ground and aerial duels. He lost possession on nine occasions and failed to register a single successful tackle.
Evans can’t be blamed as he is in the twilight of his career. Ten Hag should have gone with the experience of Varane, who is a far better defender on any day over Evans.
Ten Hag seemed too focused on tactics and messed up the combination in our view. Sergio Reguilon should have also started at left-back ahead of Victor Lindelof.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com & Sofascore.com
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