Erik ten Hag is rewarded for wielding axe

Erik ten Hag is rewarded for wielding axe… having left out Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Raphael Varane, the Manchester United boss is refusing to bow to player power

  • Rashford and Martial were dropped from XI while Varane was reportedly injured
  • Several former United bosses have fallen to player power at the club in the past
  • Manchester United have snakes in their dressing room, players who are not running. Bruce, Robson, Keane would never allow this – It’s All Kicking Off

Raheem Sterling high on the right, Mykhailo Mudryk high on the left and Nicolas Jackson high through the middle. Here was one press even Erik ten Hag was going to struggle to shut out.

The day after taking on the media, though, Ten Hag had his sights on a different set of targets at Old Trafford. This was the night he sent a message to his Manchester United malcontents.

Out went Marcus Rashford, dropped to the bench after a performance of quite staggering apathy at Newcastle on Saturday night.

Out went Anthony Martial, demoted to substitute alongside Rashford after rowing with his manager over a lack of effort tracking back at St James’ Park.

Out went Raphael Varane, disappearing from the squad altogether as Jonny Evans returned as the reserve centre-back.

Erik ten Hag was rewarded for leaving out some high profile Manchester United players in their win over Chelsea

Marcus Rashford was a substitute in the game after many had criticised his performance at the weekend against Newcastle

Anthony Martial was also on the bench but was an unused substitute following a spat with his manager at the weekend

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The official line was that Varane has a bad back. If that’s right, it’s probably because he’s spent so much time sat on the bench recently following his fall-out with Ten Hag.

Having been pretty much ever-present at United, the World Cup and multiple Champions League winner hasn’t started in nine games since questioning his manager for playing Evans ahead of him alongside Harry Maguire.

‘We don’t know what’s happening with Varane, but something is wrong,’ said his old France teammate Patrice Evra on Amazon Prime.

Raphael Varane missed out on a place in the squad altogether, with a back issue cited as the reason for his absence

Evra knows what it takes to make a great team. Even the best of them have to put a shift in.

‘Every successful team they run, that’s the basics,’ he added. ‘Against Newcastle, it was unprofessional. Players didn’t want to be on the pitch. Rashford … I remember Giggsy at 39, he wouldn’t give up like that.’

Having drawn what he felt was a line in the sand with the media – however misguided his actions might have been – Ten Hag did the same here with his under-achieving squad.

Several managers have fallen to player power at United, but Ten Hag is refusing to do so

Scott McTominay, an academy graduate at United, netted both his side’s goals at they beat Chelsea at Old Trafford

Too many managers have fallen foul of player power at Old Trafford over the last decade. If the Dutchman is to survive, he needed this: a team selection that put his sulking stars in their place, and a response from the players deemed worthy of wearing the red shirt.

United’s energy and spirit here could not have been in greater contrast to the dog’s dinner they served up on Tyneside.

How apt that the goals came from Scott McTominay, the homegrown midfielder who turned down West Ham in the summer because he didn’t want to give up his United career.

That’s six for the season for McTominay – two more than Rashford and Martial combined.


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