livescore logo

Talking Tactics: Chance for Casemiro to shine after McTominay's struggles
Copy icon

Cian Cheesbrough
LiveScore
Calls are increasing for Casemiro to start for Manchester United
Calls are increasing for Casemiro to start for Manchester United

Manchester United’s 6-3 dismantling by Manchester City laid bare a number of problems for boss Erik ten Hag to fix — but their midfield issues were perhaps the most striking.

The Red Devils were torn apart by their bitter rivals at the Etihad, with the pairing of Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen unable to cope with City’s onslaught.

As they look to bounce back at Omonia Nicosia in the Europa League tonight, we look at whether it is time to introduce £70million summer signing Casemiro to the fold.

The same old struggles

It has been the age-old problem for Manchester United in recent seasons.

Lacking a domineering presence in central areas, United have struggled to get a stranglehold on teams and dictate games as they once did — particularly against the top sides.

The introduction of summer signing Eriksen as one of the midfield pivots had looked a masterstroke by Ten Hag during a run of four consecutive wins over Liverpool, Southampton, Leicester and Arsenal.

Alongside the more defensive-minded McTominay, the Dane provided creativity from a deeper position and was beginning to forge a good understanding with attacking midfielder Bruno Fernandes.

By picking up the ball early in transition, Eriksen was able to quickly distribute the ball to United’s pacey forwards and play on the counter-attack.

That was clearly the aim against City but instead, the champions’ attacking might left McTominay to shoulder the defensive responsibility — something the Scot struggled to cope with.

Scott McTominay failed to impose himself on the centre of midfield against Manchester City
Scott McTominay failed to impose himself on the centre of midfield against Manchester City

The Casemiro conundrum

That very issue seemed to be why United chiefs brought five-time Champions League winner Casemiro to Old Trafford this summer.

The Brazilian, 30, was the midfield lynchpin of a number of successful Real Madrid teams during his nine-year stay at the Bernabeu and looked the perfect, if expensive, fix.

But the new arrival has been limited to four substitute appearances in the Premier League so far, with his sole start for the club coming in the Europa League defeat to Real Sociedad.

Former Red Devils captain Rio Ferdinand has been critical of Ten Hag’s treatment of the 64-cap international, suggesting keeping him on the bench may be affecting his fitness.

"[Casemiro] hasn’t been given a chance," Ferdinand said.

"He hasn't been given a fair crack of the whip. He's come in and played in a Europa League game.

"He hasn't even been given a start in the side when he’s fit and ready, he's regressed in terms of fitness, so he's worse off than when he came.

“Yes, he's experienced and what-not, but he must be sitting there and thinking, 'Wow, I’m happy to be here at Manchester United, but I'm feeling a little bit disrespected here, given what I've done'. I'd be surprised if he's not feeling like that."

Casemiro has been limited to substitute appearances in the Premier League for Manchester United
Casemiro has been limited to substitute appearances in the Premier League for Manchester United

Competitive culture

But Ten Hag has defended his decision to continually stick with academy graduate McTominay, insisting past performances meant he deserved to keep the shirt.

The Dutch boss said: "We have to construct a team, because also we want a competitive culture in our team and this club, I said before it had nothing to do with Casemiro, and all to do with Scott.

"When you sum it up — Brentford he wasn't in the team we lose, on the day Casemiro signed we win [against Liverpool], we played six games, we won five and in five games Scott played, in one he didn't against Sociedad. For me it's logical, it's competition in the team.

"For me it was not a choice. He improved really well, he developed really well. Nothing to do with Casemiro."

Given United's habit of buying star names who have largely failed to live up to expectations in the last 10 years, Ten Hag’s drive to create a culture where players earn their place may well be a step in the right direction.

Casemiro has proven quality from his time at Real Madrid
Casemiro has proven quality from his time at Real Madrid

Time to shine

That said, Casemiro’s proven quality suggests it is only a matter of time before we start to see him more regularly in the Red Devils XI.

The United boss said of the recruit: "I’m sure Casa will play a really important role, we know all his background, all the titles he won. 

"You see every day in training he can contribute in the team and he will be a really important player in this team, I am convinced this will happen."

The Red Devils travel to Cyprus this evening to face a side sitting bottom of Group E with two defeats so far.

It appears likely Ten Hag will ring the changes for the away clash with a Premier League game at Everton coming just three days later.

But given Casemiro has not had the workload of many of his team-mates, an impressive showing tonight could well see him keep his shirt for the trip to Goodison Park.

Tags

Manchester UnitedCasemiroPremier LeagueEuropa League
LiveScore logo

LiveScore: Live Sport Updates

Footbal Scores & Sports News

Get instant notifications with the LiveScore app
app-storegoogle-play
cristiano Ronaldo