Erik ten Hag says Manchester United are happy they signed Casemiro in the summer.
The Brazilian midfielder has emerged as a key figure in the team, driving standards up and settle levels for his team-mates to reach. When you put all of this into consideration it really is no wonder that Casemiro was so successful at Real Madrid.
Casemiro, 30, joined United at a time some pundits (Graeme Souness) felt he was past it, so the sole reason he would come to Old Trafford was for a last pay day. Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth and I don’t think he has ever been appreciated to this level throughout his entire career.
Following last week’s 2-0 win over Newcastle in the Carabao Cup, Casemiro walked over to Bruno Fernandes and told him he should have squared the ball rather than taking a shot at the very end. We should have scored but Fernandes blew his chance.
“We are winning a trophy and we are happy but the players they have to have the approach that ‘good’ isn’t good enough,” Ten Hag told reporters, as quoted by the Manchester Evening News.
“It was 2-0 but we could have won 3-0 if we made better decisions and (the row) was about that. I think it’s good that players tell each other about their responsibilities and set high standards and high demands to each other and control them, and sometimes you need a correction or a discussion so that a player is aware of his responsibilities.”
Ten Hag added that he had a player at Ajax who set the same standards for other players to follow. He confirmed that Casemiro brings that edge to United’s dressing room.
“I had a player in Ajax who sets those standards but definitely Casemiro in this team, he is such a leader and so important for us.
“Not only with his performances and skills, like scoring goals with his headers, or linking up, or intercepting balls – but his organisation, his mentality, the culture (he projects). We are so happy that we signed him.”
Furthermore, the manager is not surprised by the impact Casemiro has had at United this season. He describes him as a winner just like Raphael Varane, who was first to decide to switch the Bernabeu for Old Trafford.
“No, absolutely not [surprised]. I knew what a magnificent player he was.
“Just look at his profile, all the cups he’s won, that’s not a coincidence. Like Rapha Varane and Casemiro, they won five Champions Leagues, that’s not a coincidence.
“For me it’s always the same, you have players who win, and who win always, and players who lose and are always losing. You have to do your research and find the type who will win and who are cooperative in the dressing room, to be humble, but when on the pitch they take responsibility.
“You can sit on the bench and you are composed because you know the players will do the job and will deal with the situation and bring you the wins.”
Ten added added: “When you go to recruitment in the summer, we were looking for players with character, with personality. It was not only about signing players.
“A lot of players in the world have great skills from a technical approach, or they can run really fast, but we were looking for players who have character, who have personality, who have leadership, take responsibility, who are resilient. That is the type of players I was looking for after I analysed the squad.”
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