Erik ten Hag has still done well without several key players for long periods
Despite a terrible beginning to the current campaign, Erik ten Hag has had a lot of success in his first few months as the manager of Manchester United.
The Reds have only lost two more league games since those losses to Brighton and Brentford, and they currently sit in fifth place, three points behind the top four teams. Throughout this time period, Ten Hag has been forced to ride out a number of storms.
In the explosive interview that took place a week ago with Piers Morgan, Cristiano Ronaldo revealed that he does not respect his manager, and now he has a new problem to deal with because of this revelation. This comes after Ten Hag handled his early exit in the preseason match against Rayo Vallecano very well and his suspension for refusing to come on against Tottenham very well. This comes after Ten Hag handled both of these situations extremely well.
In addition to that, the Dutchman has had to deal with a slew of injuries, three of which have affected his primary striker. Anthony Martial has suffered three injuries so far this season, which has limited him to just five appearances in the Premier League.
A number of other players, including Raphael Varane, Antony, and Marcus Rashford, as well as Jadon Sancho, have recently been sidelined by illness. Jadon Sancho has also been injured. Ten Hag has been forced to rotate his squad as a result of all of this, and he has not had the opportunity to field his best eleven players.
Erik Ten Hag has stated that he will "deal" with Cristiano Ronaldo tomorrow, after the Portuguese forward left the field before the conclusion of United's 2-0 victory over Spurs and entered the tunnel.
He was very close to doing so against Everton in October, but Martial came off with a back problem just half an hour into his first league start of the season. This was his first opportunity to score in the Premier League this season. After picking up an ankle injury during the 6-3 loss to Manchester City, Varane came in for a few minutes at the end of the game to assist him in getting back to his peak level of fitness.
It could be argued that each and every other player in the lineup was one of his strongest selections. Ten Hag's team has relied heavily on both David de Gea and Diogo Dalot throughout the season.Luke Shaw has improved his play as a result of the competition for the left back position; however, Tyrell Malacia has also demonstrated what he is capable of doing this season, and both players could argue that they are deserving of a spot in United's strongest side. The combination of Ten Hag's center-backs Lisandro Martinez and Varane is without a doubt their most formidable pairing.
This year, Christian Eriksen has been nothing short of spectacular, and his midfield triad with Casemiro and Bruno Fernandes has flourished as a result. Marcus Rashford, who leads United in scoring with eight goals this season, is clearly more effective on the left side of the field, whereas Antony has adjusted very well to playing on the right.
First-choice Ronaldo came on as a substitute for an injured Martial and scored the game-winning goal in Manchester United's 2-1 victory over Everton. Ronaldo's goal was the 700th of his career. Martial started the match ahead of Ronaldo. However, the fact of the matter is that Ten Hag does not include the superstar in his starting eleven, and as a result, the superstar's attempts to leave the team may be helping his manager solve a problem.
Actually, it's a good sign for United that Ten Hag hasn't been able to field his best team this season due to injury and other factors. Due to their strong start to the season, fans have not yet witnessed United at their full strength or seen what they are capable of when operating at their maximum level.
It also means that the victories over Liverpool, Tottenham, and the team currently in first place in the table, Arsenal, look like even more of an accomplishment, and it means that the club is in a position to have a sustained crack at the top four this season once everyone is healthy and ready to go.
It is abundantly clear that there is a problem with strength in depth, particularly in attack. United has a pressing need to bolster their frontline, particularly in light of the impending departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and the ongoing injury woes of Anthony Martial; this must take place sooner rather than later if Ronaldo leaves in January.
However, once Ten Hag is able to reliably field his strongest eleven, United will become an even more formidable adversary. There is still more to come.