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Erik ten Hag's change in tactics against Southampton shows BIG problem at Manchester United

Cain Smith

| Last updated 

Erik ten Hag's change in tactics against Southampton shows BIG problem at Manchester United

Erik ten Hag has seemingly changed his approach at Manchester United due to a certain player, but it could have a negative long term impact on the team.

United have won back-to-back games in the Premier League following a rocky start to the Dutchman's tenure.

Defeats against Brighton and Brentford left United at the bottom of the league.

They have since recovered well, with solid performances and results against Liverpool and Southampton.

However, we have seen a massive shift in how the Reds are building the play.

David de Gea experienced a very tough opening two games whilst he was being tasked with playing the ball from the back.

He gifted Thomas Frank's side their second goal of the game with a poor pass to Christian Eriksen.


It seems that the blueprint has since been ripped up with the goalkeeper going long much more than beforehand.

In the first two games, De Gea went long just 14 times.

That is a large difference to the 43 long passes attempted in the latest two fixtures.

While Ten Hag has mentioned the need to be able to go long when being pressed high, there should be a balance in a team that is looking to control fixtures. Especially against a team like Southampton, who were not fierce in the press.

Against Liverpool and The Saints, United needed to be winning second balls as they weren't often building from De Gea.

His lack of presence in build-up also means that it's easier for the opposition to press United, as they are one player down in the play.

After buying Lisandro Martinez, who is known to be one of the best ballplaying centre-backs in Europe, it seems ludicrous that Ten Hag has needed to stray away from his preferred style just because of one man.

Lisandro Martinez against Southampton. (Man Utd)
Lisandro Martinez against Southampton. (Man Utd)

Of course, adaption to the personnel is something that needs to be done, but, Tyrell Malacia, Martinez and Diogo Dalot are all extremely comfortable playing this way. Raphael Varane also has the intensity so that he can keep up to speed.

The main reason why it does not work is because of the goalkeeper. It's not surprising that he's made some brilliant saves in the last two games as he's ceded any sort of build-up responsibility.

Despite the fact that United have collected the points in their last two bouts, they need to find a way to control games more. The last 30 minutes against Southampton were difficult. They need to be able to play the way that Ten Hag originally planned for.

United are looking for someone to challenge the Spaniard before the window slams shut on Thursday.

Mark Dubravka has reportedly agreed terms with the Reds and is hoping that Newcastle United sanction the move.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Manchester United, David De Gea, Erik Ten Hag, Premier League, Southampton, Football, Lisandro Martinez

Cain Smith
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