Man Utd star relishing unthinkable Ten Hag tactic most managers wouldn’t even consider
A Man Utd star secretly enjoyed playing his part in a remarkable tactic deployed by Erik ten Hag that most managers wouldn’t even consider.
The Red Devils were content to sanction just a trio of winter window loan arrivals. All three – Jack Butland, Wout Weghorst and Marcel Sabizter – joined on six-month spells.
Weghorst, 30, was drafted in as a short-term fix following the acrimonious exit of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The veteran Dutchman has played the entirety of his career as a centre-forward. Given his 6ft 6in height he’s been utilised as a target man, though is far better with his feet then generally given credit for.
Weghorst was surprisingly deployed as a No 10 during the latter part of United’s 2-0 victory over Leeds last weekend.
The decision shocked many and few would’ve expected the giant forward to start in the position against Barcelona in the Europa League.
However, that’s exactly the call Ten Hag made, with the tactical tweak allowing the red-hot Marcus Rashford to take up a more central position.
Ten Hag later explained the decision by claiming the shift allows Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes a better shot at exploiting the spaces Rashford’s runs leave vacant.
“It’s not only about Wout, but he did well in that position,” said Ten Hag. “And I know he can be, but it gives us a lot of variation.
“But also you know I want Jadon and Bruno coming in the half spaces, get them on the ball and make runs from both from deep.”
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Weghorst revelling in Ten Hag tweak
Now, speaking to Man Utd’s club media, Weghorst has opened up on the unusual tweak.
Weghorst admitted he has played as a No 10 in his younger days – something Ten Hag was fully aware of given they were both in the Netherlands at the time.
The frontman also claimed he secretly enjoyed the change and if it helps United get the results they crave, he’s all for it.
“Yes, that was really in my younger days, to be honest,” Weghorst told United’s club website.
“I think I was like 17 or 18 at the time, playing still as an amateur in the Netherlands but no, he mentioned it to me [at Leeds] at half-time that it could be an option to do some tactical switches.
“It happened in the second half and it went good for myself. It was actually new and the first time I’d played there [professionally] but I quite liked it.
“The most important thing for me is to help the team. It helped us to win the match over there, doing also my defensive work. I took it on and, especially for the first time, I think I can be happy with it.”
Goals have been in short supply for Weghorst since moving to Old Trafford. He has just a solitary goal to his name in the club’s colours in an EFL Cup clash against Nottingham Forest.
He went on to acknowledge there is room for improvement on his performances thus far, but again stressed the most important thing is the team continues to churn out positive results.
Weghorst concluded: “There’s room for improvement and things can go better but, as a beginning, the most important thing is that we’re keeping on track like we’re doing now by winning the games.”
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