Erik ten Hag has suggested that neither Victor Lindelof nor Harry Maguire have established themselves as the club’s third-choice centre-back.
With Raphael Varane still injured, the pair have alternated as replacements alongside summer signing Lisandro Martínez.
In his pre-match press conference, the coach was asked if it would be fair to say that Víctor Lindelof was now considered his third central defender after the Swede’s start against Real Sociedad.
Erik ten Hag responded by saying that he had to “think about it”, although his response revealed that he is taking a more horse-for-racing approach.
“I have to see against Aston Villa. That’s hard because they have a new manager. So I have to look at it and analyze for that team.”
Immediately signaling the Aston Villa game, the Dutchman seemed to suggest that neither centre-back was ahead of the other.
Rather, it appears to be a game-by-game decision for Ten Hag, though as far as he’s concerned, both are well suited to play alongside the favored Martinez.
“I have to say that Lichaj and Victor played very well together in a few more games. But Lichaj and Harry last Sunday against West Ham kept a clean sheet and did very well too.
“So it’s a choice that we have to make, but when I choose one, that’s nothing against the other.”
Ten Hag may be choosing between Lindelof and Maguire based on the type of attacking threat United are likely to face.
Sociedad presented the challenge of dealing with quick short passes, something Lindelof perhaps has the agility to deal with.
Against David Moyes’ West Ham, Gianluca Scamacca’s more direct approach and aerial threat may have persuaded Ten Hag to go with Maguire.
With Aston Villa lacking a genuine target man and Unai Emery’s teams generally keeping the ball on deck, that may suggest Lindelof gets the go-ahead on Sunday. United Matchday Magazine – Stay on top of all things red! Take a seat for the Aston Villa game and join the debate on United’s hottest topics!
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