Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag may unleash a world-class triple act in Sheriff clash

7 mins read

So far at Manchester United, Erik ten Hag has resisted the temptation to play Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes all at once. However, with Sheriff in the Europa League up next, things could be about to change. After all, with no Premier League match until after the international break, now seems the perfect time for the Dutchman to experiment…

Manchester United recovered from a slow start to the transfer window to bring in Eriksen and Casemiro, with the duo touching down from Brentford and Real Madrid respectively.

However, with four matches passing in the time since the pair were united at Old Trafford, the Red Devils have resisted the temptation to deploy them alongside each other – and with Fernandes ahead of them.

Scott McTominay’s fine form has been a factor, with the Scotland international becoming a key player for Ten Hag during the early stages of his reign.

But there remains a sense that, once Casemiro has got fully up to speed with what Ten Hag wants and demands from his midfielders, the 30-year-old will come into the team.

For last Thursday’s Europa League defeat to Real Sociedad, United opted to deploy Eriksen and Casemiro from the start – with Fred then playing further ahead in the No 10 role.

That latter decision backfired, with Fred putting in a flat showing as his side slipped to a disappointing 1-0 defeat on home soil.

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Yet the result means United may now go full strength for their next European showdown, against Sheriff, given the importance of securing all three points.

Casemiro is a man tailor-made for the big occasion, having played on the grandest of stages during his glittering spell at Real Madrid.

He started four Champions League finals during his spell at the Bernabeu, with Los Blancos proceeding to win all four against Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Liverpool (x2).

Therefore, on European nights, his experience can be key to United emerging victorious as they seek a return to winning ways.

Out of all of United’s summer signings, Eriksen has arguably brought some composure and authority that has been sorely lacking in previous years.

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Some, such as Rio Ferdinand, questioned the logic of landing the Denmark international when the transfer window was open.

But Eriksen has silenced his critics with some slick and stylish displays in midfield, with Ten Hag moulding him into a Frenkie de Jong alternative.

He was particularly impressive in the 3-1 win over Arsenal at the start of the month, providing the assist for Marcus Rashford’s final goal of the game.

And it was telling that, when he was hooked at half time in the Sociedad game, United looked considerably worse.

Fernandes has enjoyed a good start to the season, with the Portugal international flourishing with the armband at a time where Harry Maguire seems set for a substitute role.

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The Portugal international has started to rediscover his swagger, having appeared subdued following the Hollywood homecoming of Cristiano Ronaldo last August.

So Fernandes, Eriksen and Casemiro would be a world-class triple act for Ten Hag to unleash.

United can’t afford to lose a second Europa League game in a row, especially against an opposition they dwarf in size and stature.

The tournament remains the Red Devils’ best chance of winning silverware, having last won a trophy in 2017 – when Jose Mourinho secured the same trophy.

And Eriksen, speaking as the match nears, has revealed he joined the fallen Premier League giants because it was a shot at ‘redemption’.

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“It is one of the biggest clubs in the world,” he said. “It was a redemption after what had happened earlier, and like proving that you could get an offer from United.

“It was great. It’s a huge club I’ve joined.

“I had enough [opportunities]. I had enough options to choose from, but it was all about finding the right one.

“Of course, Brentford wanted me to stay but I would say where I am in my career, I had the opportunity to step up to what I had dreamed of and hoped for.

“I wanted to kick-start my career by coming to an even bigger address [club], and I succeeded.”

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