Erik Ten Hag Gives Honest Answer on Why He Deployed Harry Maguire as Striker vs Real Sociedad

Erik Ten Hag Gives Honest Answer on Why He Deployed Harry Maguire as Striker vs Real Sociedad

  • Erik Ten Hag attempted to make sense of the Harry Maguire substitution on Thursday, November 3
  • Maguire was brought on late in the game to partner with Cristiano Ronaldo up front, to the disbelief of fans
  • But the Manchester United boss claims the move was necessary because of his side is currently devoid of strikers

Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag has explained his side had to deploy Harry Maguire as a striker against Real Sociedad because of lack of attacking options.

United were chasing an elusive second goal against Real Sociedad which would have ensured they won their Europa League group, but it was not forthcoming.

Late in the game, Ten Hag decided to tweak his squad and part of those changes involved bringing on Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay in the place of Donny van de Beek and Victor Lindelof.

Maguire, Europa League, Ten Hag
Harry Maguire and Igor Zubeldia of during the UEFA Europa League match between Real Sociedad v Manchester United at the Estadio Reale Arena on November 3, 2022. Photo by David S. Bustamante.
Source: Getty Images

Fred and Harry Maguire were also introduced in a makeshift formation that saw Casemiro move further behind as a makeshift centre-back.

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For Maguire, he was deployed as an auxiliary striker as United resorted to aerial passes to try to get an edge over their Spanish opponents.

After the game, Ten Hag tried to make sense of his substitutions as he explained how a lack of attacking power led to the surprise positioning of Maguire.

"First of all, Donny was a long time out," Ten Hag started as quoted on Manchester Evening news.
"He couldn't play 90 minutes, so after 60 minutes we planned the sub and then we needed an extra goal so we brought more offensive players on, more four-against-four in the midfield, so we took more risks from that moment on.”

"Clear [why Maguire went up front]: we needed the goal and then we went more opportune. With Cristiano and Harry Maguire, you have two good headers and we tried to go more direct into the box and I think we did several times, quicker to get into the box for the opponent."

The second-place finish in their group means United will now have to face a playoff knockout tie if they are to proceed to the last 16 of the competition.

It will be interesting to see how United will cope between now and the playoffs in February, especially with the World Cup interrupting the domestic football calendar.

At the moment the Red Devils are devoid of too much squad depth as a result of injuries, with Raphael Varane becoming the latest addition to the list.

United’s possible opponents in the playoffs

As Sports Brief reported, Juventus and Barcelona are among the sides Manchester United could face in February.

The other teams on a collision course with Erik Ten Hag’s side include Ajax, Sportng Lisbon, Salzburg, Shaktar Donetsk, Sevilla and Bayer Leverkusen.

All these sides finished third in their respective Champions League groups.

Source: Sports Brief News