‘Risk everything’ - Erik ten Hag explains odd Man Utd substitutions after taking off TWO centre-halves in Newcastle defeat
- Red Devils chasing the game at St James' Park
- Took off Varane & Martinez before conceding again
- Have slipped to fourth in the table
WHAT HAPPENED? The Red Devils were well below their best at St James’ Park, with a disjointed display that saw them struggle to produce any kind of attacking spark leaving them on the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline. In a bid to alter the course of the contest, Ten Hag made five second-half changes – with Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial replacing Wout Weghorst and Antony after Joe Willock broke the deadlock.
Victor Lindelof, Fred and Facundo Pellistri were then introduced in place of Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez and Scott McTominay as United chased the game, but the decision to take off two centre-halves immediately came back to haunt the Red Devils as Callum Wilson wrapped up the points for Newcastle.
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WHAT THEY SAID: Asked to explain his thinking afterwards, Ten Hag told reporters: “It was in the end of the game. One-nil down and you risk everything. Before we subbed bringing Jason Sancho and Anthony Martial, for more control in possession, to keep the ball, they get forward. So after we are losing the game and you try to save the game, to go one-against-one in the back, bring off your two centre halves, bring a fresh one in, who can defend with space on his back and bring an extra player in offence with Pellistri.
"I think we created good chances. Anthony Martial [had] our best chance, a deflected shot. But it is always difficult when you run out of time, then you have to risk certain things from the back, you bring extra offence players in, you hope to turn the game, you have to try it.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Defeat for United on Tyneside has seen them slip to fourth in the Premier League table, one point above fifth-placed Tottenham, and they have now failed to score through three top-flight outings – while conceding nine goals – since bringing a six-year wait for major silverware to a close in the Carabao Cup final.
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WHAT NEXT? United will be back in action on Wednesday when playing host to Brentford, before then welcoming Everton to Old Trafford on Saturday.