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Tyrell Malacia Explains The Role Erik Ten Hag Wants His Fullbacks To Play In Possession

Dylan Penketh

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Tyrell Malacia Explains The Role Erik Ten Hag Wants His Fullbacks To Play In Possession

Tyrell Malacia made his first unofficial start against Crystal Palace on Tuesday as the club secured a 3-1 victory over the Eagles in their third pre-season friendly of the summer.

The young Dutchman played 70 minutes in a starting XI that looked increasingly like it would be the one Ten Hag will line up with on 7 August against Brighton & Hove Albion, with the likes of Harry Maguire, Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes all starting.

As it stands, Malacia will be competing for the left-back position alongside both Luke Shaw and Alex Telles, unless either decides to move on this summer.

Malacia’s signing was incredibly swift, as the player had already agreed a deal to sign with French outfit Lyon, but at the very last moment Manchester United swooped in and secured a deal with Feyenoord for the transfer of the player.

One key reason as to why Malacia chose United over Lyon was Erik ten Hag.


“I spoke with him a lot and we had some good conversations about football, about myself and about him — how he sees me,” Malacia explained in a recent interview. “That was also a big important thing for me to join the club.”

During the opening three pre-season friendlies, it has been pointed out that Erik ten Hag has often instructed his full-backs to play a rather inverted role while the team have possession of the ball.

When quizzed on how he felt in this role against Crystal Palace, Malacia simply replied “that’s what the coach wanted from me.”

He also revealed that this is not an unfamiliar role to him, as at Feyenoord under Arne Slot he played a similar role during the build-up phase of possession

“At my former club under my former coach I play the same style, for me it’s easier to get in this system.”

Tyrell Malacia has fitted in well at his new club. His incredibly infectious smile has been a big talking point amongst fans, however the confidence behind the player is clearly growing with every performance, and it would not be a surprise to see Malacia starting for Manchester United on a more regular basis.

Speaking after the 4-0 triumph over Liverpool earlier in pre-season, Malacia noted: “Of course, it’s everybody’s aim [to be first choice]. You always want to play, so you have to work hard for it.

“I like to attack, I think that’s one of the reasons why [Ten Hag] brought me here, so I have to prove to everyone why I’m here.”

Tyrell Malacia made his unofficial debut for Manchester United against Liverpool in Bangkok. (Alamy)
Tyrell Malacia made his unofficial debut for Manchester United against Liverpool in Bangkok. (Alamy)

“He [Ten Hag] wants to attack with the left-back and right-back, so that's what he wants. He has a system and he wants me to play like this, and that's something we speak about."

In response to being asked if he can challenge Shaw for the starting role, Malacia simply said: “Of course.”

Manchester United are set to play against Aston Villa in their fourth pre-season game on Saturday, with Erik ten Hag’s men aiming to make it four wins out of four so far this summer.

The two final friendlies against Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano will both be played in Europe, with the former in Oslo on 30 July and the latter at Old Trafford the following day.

The club will then face off against Brighton on the opening weekend of the Premier League season as Ten Hag bids to get the side back into the Champions League.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Manchester United, Tyrell Malacia, Erik Ten Hag, Luke Shaw, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams, Diogo Dalot, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Premier League, Football

Dylan Penketh
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