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Ten Hag explains decision to play Shaw at centre-back for Man Utd vs City

12:54 PM GMT+4 18/01/2023
Luke Shaw Manchester United 2022-23
Erik ten Hag believes Luke Shaw has the 'tactical view' to excel playing in a centre-back position after he shone against Manchester City.
  • Shaw has impressed at centre-back
  • Fared well against Man City
  • Ten Hag hails his versatility

WHAT HAPPENED? Ten Hag has used Shaw at centre-back in three of the last four Premier League outings including the fixture against Manchester City last weekend. It was a risky call but the manager stood vindicated as the England international kept Erling Haaland in check and prevented the striker from linking up with Kevin de Bruyne in United's 2-1 win over their arch-rivals. The Dutch manager was impressed with his display and hailed him as a versatile defender who gives him the option to make a 'tactical choice' depending on the opposition.

WHAT THEY SAID: "It is a big decision. But I think when you analyse the profile of Haaland and the combination with De Bruyne it was also the right decision because Luke has the physical power to compete with them and also has the tactical view to make the right decision and technical skills to play in that position," he told reporters.

"So I think [against City] it matched really well but I think in other games he can contribute even more on the left in the wide positions so it’s a tactical choice and we can see from game to game what we need. And I think we have more players in our squad who have the capacity to be multi-functional and we can use that as a weapon in games."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Shaw has had an incredible turnaround this season. He was dropped from United's starting XI following the 4-0 humiliation by Brentford at Old Trafford with Tyrell Malacia being favoured ahead of him. However, with grit and determination he has established himself as a vital cog in Ten Hag's system which has forced the manager to call him a "leader" and praise his character. "I like that he’s so honest. After the second game, he didn’t play and said: 'I fully understand, my performance is not right'. But from the first day in training at pre-season, he was working really hard and you can see when he has the right approach. He’s a top player," he added.

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WHAT NEXT FOR SHAW? The defender will look to impress once again if he gets to start against Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Wednesday.