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Maguire up top?! Man Utd boss Ten Hag explains decision to bring defender on as striker in insufficient win over Sociedad

9:21 AM WAT 04/11/2022
Maguire Ten Hag 2022-23
Manchester United coach Erik ten Hag says he used Harry Maguire as a striker against Real Sociedad as he wanted more bodies in attack.
  • United needed to win by at least two
  • Ten Hag used defender as striker
  • Did not have much impact on the game

WHAT HAPPENED? The Red Devils had to win by a two-goal margin to snatch top spot from Real Sociedad in Group E in the Europa League. In the 82nd minute, Ten Hag replaced goalscorer Alejandro Garnacho with Maguire and used him as a target man in search of the elusive second goal. But Maguire was not provided good enough deliveries to use his imposing frame to cause problems in the box, with the team inexplicably playing a late corner short rather than hoisting it towards his head.

WHAT THEY SAID: After the match the Dutch tactician explained his decision, telling the club's official website: "To bring extra offensive players in. But I think in that moment we were too erratic, we weren't as good on the ball anymore and we brought less balls into the box. In the last 10 minutes, we got the ball in the box again and created a good chance. That was the idea. We had to take risks, and that's what we did. And we kept a clean sheet very well."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Manchester United had to settle for a second-place finish in the group and will face a play-off to qualify for the last 16 of the Europa League - even after beating Real Sociedad on Thursday. Ten Hag's side will now face one of the eight teams dropping out of the Champions League in a two-legged tie.

IN ONE PHOTO:

Very few people would have expected to see Maguire thrown up top on Thursday night...

WHAT NEXT FOR MANCHESTER UNITED? The Red Devils will next take on Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday.