Man Utd boss Ten Hag to drop Ronaldo for Martial against Liverpool; Varane to start over Maguire?

Date published: Monday 22nd August 2022 5:21 - Joe Williams

Man Utd striker Cristiano Ronaldo looks in pain

Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag is set to start fit-again Anthony Martial over Cristiano Ronaldo in their crucial match against Liverpool.

The Red Devils are looking to bounce back from two defeats out of two under Ten Hag in a nightmare start to the new Premier League season.

Their 2-1 loss to Brighton on the opening weekend of the season was bad enough but an embarrassing 4-0 loss at Brentford shocked supporters.

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Martial was brilliant in pre-season for Man Utd while wantaway Cristiano Ronaldo was absent due to family issues, apart from 45 minutes against Rayo Vallecano.

But after Ronaldo fired a blank against Brentford, Sky Sports report that Martial is set to start ahead of the Portugal international after recovering from injury.

Sky Sports senior reporter Melissa Reddy has explained the expected decision, she said: “With Ronaldo, the initial plan was always to have Anthony Martial starting the season.

“He was very good during the pre-season tour, not just in terms of his own performances and the work he was doing off the ball, but how well Sancho and Rashford combined with him.

“The movement up front, the fluency and the understanding was excellent and the only reason Ronaldo started the season or Eriksen was used as a false nine was because of Martial’s injury.

“So if Martial’s fit enough to start, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he started over Ronaldo.”

And Man Utd captain Harry Maguire – who has come in for a lot of stick over the last year or so – could also lose his place in the team against Liverpool with Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez training as the two centre-backs this week.

Reddy added: “Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez were the centre-back pairing all through training this week so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Harry Maguire drops out and Varane comes in. Ideally, that would have been the centre-back combination Ten Hag was working towards during pre-season.

“We were told that Varane was put on a specialised programme in order to make sure he was conditioned enough to deal with Ten Hag’s football. His availability has been an issue. There’s obviously no questions surrounding his pedigree and how good a defender he is – the best one at the club.

“When Ten Hag said Maguire was retaining the captaincy, that he was backing him and supporting him with the armband and in terms of his status as a first-XI player, there was some apprehension as to why he did that, even from members of staff who thought he didn’t have to be so concrete over his words.

“He’s still trying to get to know the squad and he doesn’t want to make any changes for now. Once he is fully into the swing of things at United, it’s something he can make a decision over. Obviously it will be a tricky situation if Maguire isn’t starting regularly but retains the captaincy.”


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