Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Man Utd star leaves major name fearing for his place, with Ten Hag working wonders on opportunistic defender

Man Utd defenders Luke Shaw, Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire

A Man Utd star is relishing his recent partnership alongside a summer recruit, and reckons Erik ten Hag’s system is bringing out his best.

After being derided for much of the summer, Man Utd’s most recent transfer window is beginning to look like something of a masterstroke.

Christian Eriksen arrived for free and has quickly established himself as the creator-in-chief in midfield.

Tyrell Malacia has displaced Luke Shaw and is the undisputed No 1 at left-back. Casemiro had to be patient given the stellar form of Scott McTominay, but showcased what he can do against Everton on Sunday.

The Brazilian did have a hand in Alex Iwobi’s opener when losing the ball inside his own half. However, he won the ball back in a dangerous area for Antony’s equaliser and provided an incisive assist for Cristiano Ronaldo’s winner.

Lisandro Martinez and Antony both arrived for big fees, but both have nailed down starting spots with all haste.

Antony has three goals in his first three league matches. Martinez, meanwhile, is arguably United’s first choice centre-half from he, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof.

Martinez had struck up a promising partnership with Varane that relegated Maguire down to third choice. However, injuries to both Varane and Maguire have afforded an opportunity to Lindelof.

The Sweden captain, 28, has grasped the nettle and has started the last two across all competitions alongside Martinez.

Lindelof is due to get the nod once more on Thursday night in the Europa League against Cypriot side Omonia Nicosia.

Ten Hag system perfect for Lindelof

Speaking in a press conference on Wednesday, Lindelof staked his claim to a starting role longer term when talking up both his pairing with Martinez and the impact Ten Hag is having on his game.

Lindelof has always been known as a classy, ball-playing centre-half. His deficiencies lay in his lack of pace, though playing alongside the sprightly Martinez covers his only major weakness.

What’s more, Lindelof recently hinted Ten Hag will instruct his players to try and dominate the possession stakes even more as they move forward. That will suit Lindelof down to the ground.

“The way the boss wants to play football suits me,” said the Swede (via the Manchester Evening News)

“Hopefully I can improve a lot under him. It’s always important to want to learn more, improve and I’m going to take everything in.”

Maguire could slip to fourth choice?

On his partnership with Martinez that could ultimately result in £80m man Maguire being relegated to fourth choice, Lindelof added: “It’s been good.

“He’s a fantastic player, he’s very good with the ball. I’ve played two games with him now and we did a good game [versus Everton].”

He continued: “I wouldn’t say it changes the way I approach it [Martinez being left-footed].

“I’m just trying to play my game and the way I can help the team, it doesn’t matter whether the partner is left-footed or right-footed, it doesn’t change how I play my game.”

United’s summer recruitment drive now means they have at least two viable options for virtually all positions.

Competition for places is never a bad thing, and Lindelof is one Manchester United player who won’t shy away from tough selection battles.

“I got a tough start to the season with injury,” added Lindelof. “I wasn’t able to be involved.

“It’s important for the team to have good players in the squad. We have a lot of games and it’s important to have players to compete. For me, it’s not a problem.”

Finally, on the subject of team morale being high, the centre-half concluded: “I think the feeling in the group is good.

“We have good players and good people, so we have good energy. You always need good team spirit and we have that at the moment.”

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