How Man Utd’s six summer signings will change Erik ten Hag’s starting XI with five major problem solved
On deadline day, Antony and Martin Dubravka joined Manchester United, capping off a successful summer transfer window, and Erik ten Hag now has a far more competitive squad at his disposal.
Despite a sluggish start, Manchester United ended up enjoying a somewhat successful transfer window.
On deadline day, they signed Martin Dubravka from Newcastle and Antony from Ajax. He was a summer target for the Reds, and he eventually agreed to a five-year contract extension until 2027, with the option for an additional year, for roughly £200,000 per week.
Both players joined Casemiro, Tyrell Malacia, Lisandro Martinez, and Christian Eriksen at Old Trafford, significantly expanding Erik ten Hag’s possibilities for the rest of the season.
The Dutchman now has a considerably stronger group to work with, as seen by the starting XI that played in the 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace at the tail end of last season.
In that game, interim manager Ralf Rangnick lined up United in a 4-2-3-1 formation, similar to Ten Hag’s, but his starting XI was significantly different.
David De Gea stays in goal, but he is under scrutiny following an unsatisfactory start to the season, and it’s not out of the question that Dubravka pushes for a starting spot if his form does not improve.
Only one of the starting defensive quartet, Diogo Dalot, played in Thursday night’s 1-0 win over Leicester City. It’s difficult to see how that will alter in the future. Malacia has rapidly displaced Luke Shaw to make the left-back position his to lose after signing Alex Telles on loan from Sevilla.
Meanwhile, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof appear destined to remain bench players because to the remarkable relationship being developed between Raphael Varane and Martinez, who is quieting early-season critics game after game.
Scott McTominay was one of the few survivors from the 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace, and he lined up in a double pivot with Eriksen at King Power Stadium. Casemiro made his United debut in the second half against Leicester, with Eriksen moving higher up the pitch and Bruno Fernandes moved to the right.
We may see such a formation more frequently in the future, but it’s more probable that Casemiro will become the pillar in the heart of the midfield, with a better ball player, such as Eriksen, lining up next to him.
It would be counterproductive to frequently push Fernandes out wide. He’s more threatening down the center, and the team has finally signed Antony. Although he is a flexible attacker, he is unquestionably at his best playing on the right, and he is nearly certain to solve United’s problems on that side of the attack.
Sancho’s return to form for the club on the opposite wing means United now has an elite threat on both flanks.
Ten Hag may have wished to bring in one more center-forward to round up the transfer window, but his alternatives appear to be considerably better today than they did at the start of the summer. Rashford is gradually regaining confidence, and Anthony Martial appears capable of resuming the form that made him so popular at Old Trafford when he first arrived.
Furthermore, despite a summer marred by rumors of a possible exit, Cristiano Ronaldo appears ready to put it all behind him and produced a strong cameo appearance from the bench on Thursday.
Ten Hag, for one, appears to be ready to forget everything, and he was quick to dismiss the suggestion that the attacker may play a “bit-part role” at United this season.
“As we said,” Ten Hag remarked of Ronaldo’s decision to stay. “We have a squad despite the fact that it is early in the season. We currently have more than 11 starting players, and those on the bench can play in one, two, or three weeks.”