Erik ten Hag has arrested Manchester United’s poor start to the season and with eight games played in all competitions, everything is looking quite positive.
United lost their first two games of the season and after the defeats, Ten Hag made a series of big calls to turn things around at Old Trafford.
The biggest change has been in defence, with Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane combining to make up a promising partnership – United have won all five games they have started together.
Speaking after Thursday evening’s 2-0 victory over FC Sheriff, Ten Hag hailed the defence again and named Varane as the ‘leader’ of that area.
“With Rapha Varane there as the leader, he puts everyone in the right position, he fits really good together with Licha Martinez and also the two full-backs did their job really good.
“Difficult start, opponent really played direct, opportune, go for second ball, we lost too many balls at the start of the game but after a certain period I think we found a better formation, especially over on the left side.
“And you see we can play between the lines and we adapted our game and we scored a great goal and from that moment on we dictated the game total.”
Varane and Martinez look like two players made to play with each other. Both players are composed on the ball and possess fantastic passing range. They can step out with the ball and they’re also brilliant at defending deep.
It’s hard to see any weaknesses in either player and at this point, it’s a long way back for Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof, who were religiously Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s go-to partnership.
Ten Hag points out that Varane is the leader of United’s backline but evidence shows that all four of United’s players have taken on responsibilities in that respect. Perhaps Martinez is the most outgoing with his style.
Last season was disappointing for Varane but in some ways, perhaps he needed that as he’s looking like a reborn player this time around.