Manchester United’s Marcel Sabitzer and Casemiro are like ships in the night right now..
Reading barely made a dent on United during their FA Cup fourth round clash at Old Trafford last month, but their bruising frontman Andy Carroll certainly did, as his reckless challenge put Christian Eriksen on the sidelines until at least April..
With so many important games to come – and United still fighting on four fronts – that unsavory moment and diagnosis elicited a collective shudder. However, the show had to go on.
Erik ten Hag was well aware of the situation, and United moved quickly to sign Sabitzer on loan from German heavyweights Bayern Munich.
His early outings demonstrated that it was not a panic buy, but it did come as a surprise.
It emphasized the new attitude that Ten Hag has instilled at Old Trafford this season. United did not dwell on their defeat; instead, they simply rolled with the punches, almost throwing their own when Casemiro was sent off against Crystal Palace.
Those who dismiss Fred and Scott McTominay as starting options saw Sabitzer zip up his tracksuit against the Eagles just a few days after his arrival as a precursor. He was expected to be deployed alongside the Brazilian powerhouse in what had previously been a difficult area for United before Ten Hag..
Eriksen, Casemiro, and Sabitzer are the three players. When it comes to midfield recruits, Ten Hag is three for three.
Sabitzer was still seated, waiting for his debut cameo, when Casemiro decided to throttle Will Hughes, earning him a red card. Ten Hag and United were forced to continue without the sensational former Real Madrid midfielder, which was questioned but not contested.
He will temporarily rejoin the United squad against Barcelona on Thursday before serving the final game of his domestic ban against Leicester City at Old Trafford on Sunday. Casemiro will then have to brush past his newest teammate once more.
Sabitzer is banned for the Europa League play-off opener at the Nou Camp due to his early-season inconsistencies in European competition, further delaying Ten Hag’s opportunity to lay down his midfield blueprint. When he does, it could reveal a lot about his summer plans.
Five games and 19 days after their proposed first audition, Casemiro and Sabitzer could finally line up together when Barcelona returns to the Europa League in the United Kingdom. Then comes the first major event of the Ten Hag era, a match against Newcastle at Wembley.
Whatever happens in Catalonia, expect the pre-last-16 match to be delicately poised halfway through the 180 minutes..
United will then need to be at full strength for their two most important matches this season, so does this point to Ten Hag selecting Casemiro, Sabitzer, and Bruno Fernandes?
Casemiro and Fernandes will start both games against Barcelona and Newcastle beneath the famous arch, but it is not out of the question that Fred will keep the shirt beyond the first leg due to his existing relationship with Casemiro. In that sense, Sabitzer being overlooked would not be telling..
However, Ten Hag’s faith in what is currently an untested combination could imply that the Austria international has a role to play in his long-term plans..
It would undoubtedly be a feather in his cap and set the tone for what is to come at the end of this campaign..
Leave a Reply