Erik ten Hag explains team selection after picking Alejandro Garnacho and Cristiano Ronaldo

Manchester United are gearing up to take on FC Sheriff in the Europa League as Erik ten Hag eyes qualification into the knockout phase, with even a 1-0 defeat securing passage to the next round.

Ten Hag has been reluctant to rotate his side so far this season and the Dutchman did very little of just that again on Thursday evening, with many of the players who featured in the 1-1 draw at Chelsea retaining their places.

There were some changes, however, with Cristiano Ronaldo being introduced to the side again after a three-day exile following his refusal to come on as a substitute against Tottenham last week.

Alejandro Garnacho, the exciting young forward, is also in the team as he makes his first start of the season, having already made his debut under Ralf Rangnick at the end of last season.

Speaking ahead of the game, Ten Hag has now explained some off the thinking behind his selection decisions for the game against the Moldovan minnows.

“Yes [impressive in training], that’s why he gets the opportunity, he deserves it,” Ten Hag told MUTV, via the Manchester Evening News on the decision to pick Garnacho.

“Like runs behind, like dribbles, like finishing and I’m really wondering, and I hope, he can do that tonight.

“We have a front three, with Cristiano and Antony, who all have opportunities, who have skills, who run behind, to create, to have dribbles and to have combinations in tight areas, which is what we expect from them, to create opportunities and goals.

“This pitch is not for learning. They have to deliver and be aware of that. This is not a learning moment, he [Garnacho] has the capabilities to show it. We have six games coming up in two weeks and we need them all [players].

“Raphael Varane is out and we need centre-backs, so I’m really happy Harry is on the way back, also in the front with Donny, he can score goals, so I’m happy in that department that he’s back. We need to keep clean sheets, stability and consistency.”

SN’s verdict…
Garnacho did not feature much at all during pre-season and you wondered whether the uncertainty surrounding his future at Old Trafford had anything to do with it.

In contrast, Tahith Chong, who has left United, featured far more than Garnacho. It was puzzling to watch from the outside but perhaps there was a perfectly sensible reason behind it all.

Garnacho now has the perfect opportunity to showcase his skills on the biggest stage and put himself in the running to be a regular fixture in the side.

More Stories Alejandro Garnacho Cristiano Ronaldo Erik ten Hag Europa League Manchester United Premier League