Ten Hag Explains His Decision To Start McTominay Ahead Of Casemiro In The Manchester Derby

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo and Casemiro on the bench before the match.

REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

Manchester United were dismantled by their noisy neighbours, conceding six goals in yet another embarrassing outing away from home.

The Red Devils, who have a goal difference of minus three after the first seven games of the Premier League season, have looked shaky out of possession under Erik ten Hag.

The 4-0 humbling at Brentford in the Dutchman’s first away fixture as United manager forced the club’s hierarchy to act in the summer transfer window.

John Murtough and his recruitment team recognised that the midfield is in a desperate need of a natural defensive midfielder and spent big to acquire Casemiro from Real Madrid.

Some reports suggested that United were in a hurry to sign the Brazilian in order to include him in the lineup to face Liverpool. Casemiro was presented in front of the Old Trafford crowd but wasn’t registered in time to feature in that fixture.

The 30-year-old was expected to be a guaranteed starter from the get go in order to avoid another embarrassment. As such, many were surprised by Ten Hag’s decision to leave Casemiro on the bench against free-scoring Manchester City.

Scott McTominay partnered Christian Eriksen in a double-pivot at the Etihad instead, and looked out of place from the first minute in the derby.

Following the 6-3 defeat, the United boss, as expected, was asked to explain his team selection.

“On the day we signed him we started to win. The team was doing well. It is not against Casemiro, it is for Scott McTominay. I am sure he will be important for us, in the short term he will find himself in the team, but it has to come in a natural way,” Ten Hag answered.

McTominay was indeed an important player in his side’s four straight league wins before Sunday, but against City he was subpar at best. The Scotland international is unlikely to retain his spot in the starting XI, especially when Ten Hag has such an experienced replacement at his disposal.