Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has been told Hannibal Mejbri has the hunger, despire and ability to help dig the club out of their current hole with one pundit explaining why the Tunisia youngster deserves his place over some of the club’s so-called superstars.
The Red Devils have started the 2023/24 season in woeful form, with two defeats in the Champions League compounding a record of just four wins and four defeats in the Premier League. Those six defeats from just 11 games (they have also played in the Carabao Cup) means Manchester United have suffered their worst start to a season since 1986.
That bruising start to the season will come as a major disappointment to club chiefs, who have backed Ten Hag with hard cash since he took charge. After spending £216m in his first summer, United finished third and also won the Carabao Cup. However, with optimism raised they could further close the gap on Manchester City, the Red Devils have stuttered and stumbled this season, despite another £172m spending spree.
That has seen Ten Hag come under some pressure over his job. And while he retains the backing of the club right now, he is under pressure to deliver a serious improvement when the season resumes after the international break.
Indeed, such has been the heat on Ten Hag, that he has already been linked back to a job with a former club should the Manchester United axe fall.
With United’s star players not yet finding their rhythm and best form, Ten Hag has been told by Tim Sherwood that he could do far worse than select Mejbri to dig him out of a hole.
Ten Hag told Hannibal Mejbri can bring Man Utd to life
The former Monaco youngster has been handed his chance this season, making four appearances so far. And Sherwood believes he has been one of United’s better players and has even outperformed some of the club’s so-called superstars, whom the Sky Sports feels have been lazy and have not looked like they care this season.
Discussing Ten Hag’s selection policies, Sherwood feels the Man Utd boss needs to give Mejbri more chances.
“He seems to pick superstars. £50m, £70m, £100m players – he throws them onto the pitch and hopes one of them does something to get him out the mire,” he told Sky Sports.
“That is what has happened. He’s had to go to a kid in the academy to do that for him now. Hannibal got into that side.
“Say what you want about him and people will say, ‘He’s not a £100m player, he’s not this or that’ – but he went to Birmingham, worked hard on loan there, he came back and for me, he was Man of the Match in a couple games.
“But as soon as someone else is fit, he is out the door. Sit on the bench, son. Someone else comes in and strolls around the pitch, doesn’t want to run around or get the ball back. It’s up to the manager to put the cocktail together.”
Academy stars have showed themselves worthy to Man Utd
Sherwood, acknowledging Man Utd’s rich history for calling upon academy players, added: “They can’t all be superstars. You look at the best Man Utd teams, it was a lot of academy boys. When you cut them in half, they bleed the colour of the club. It means more to them.
“He hasn’t got enough of that and he is worried of putting them in ahead of the superstars. The superstars, when they are doing well, brilliant, keep them in the side.
“At the moment, they are not doing well. You have to be brave enough to put them on the bench. You have to put out who you think is going to do the job for the badge.
“That is a magnificent football club, the biggest in the world. Get someone who wants to play for Man Utd. Some of those guys look like they are doing Man Utd a favour by being there and it is not good enough.”
Mejbri joined United in a 2019 deal from Monaco in a fee that could ultimately cost them €10m.
He has so far appeared for the club on seven occasions, with four of those games coming this season. He scored his first goal for the club in the 3-1 home defeat to Brighton in September.