Prem winner names one trait Man Utd star must improve to reach next level, despite Ten Hag trust
Former Premier League champion Martin Keown has advised Manchester United midfielder Casemiro one way in which he can avoid getting red cards and therefore improve his game, despite the Brazilian enjoying a brilliant debut season at Old Trafford.
Man Utd spent an initial £60million to sign Casemiro from Real Madrid in August last year. The transfer was met with surprise, as Casemiro opted to leave a team which he had won five Champions League titles with.
Then 30 years of age, it seemed Casemiro was looking for a new challenge. And he landed on Erik ten Hag’s Man Utd as a good next destination.
Pundits questioned how much money the Red Devils were spending on his transfer fee and how much he was being paid per week.
But Casemiro has silenced all the doubters by emerging into one of Ten Hag’s most important players this term.
Man Utd have looked soft and open in midfield in recent years. When Casemiro is on the pitch, however, they look far stronger and have much better protection in front of the defence.
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The 69-cap Brazil international has helped Man Utd win the Carabao Cup – their first trophy since 2017 – as well as reach third in the Premier League table. They could add more silverware to the club’s trophy cabinet as they remain in the Europa League and FA Cup, too.
The only downside to Casemiro’s game is that he can sometimes be too aggressive when going into challenges. And during Man Utd’s 0-0 draw with Southampton on Sunday, he was sent off for a bad tackle on Carlos Alcaraz.
Casemiro facing four-match ban after second red card
He was originally given a yellow card by the referee, but this was upgraded to a red after a VAR review.
Casemiro had won the ball when tackling Alcaraz, but his studs were up and they caught his opponent on the shin after rebounding off the ball.
Casemiro was never given a straight red card during over 330 matches for Real Madrid. But now it has happened twice in one season with Man Utd.
As he was dismissed against Crystal Palace last month, his ban will last four matches, rather than the usual three. And there is now concern this suspension could cost Man Utd a top-four spot.
During an appearance on talkSPORT (13/03 at 11:15), Keown has provided Casemiro with some guidance on how he can win the ball without endangering his opponent, in what is perhaps the only way the Ten Hag favourite can improve his game.
“As a tackler, that was my game. I was a contact defender, I went into a tackle on my side,” Keown said. “If you look, anyone who is listening or watching have a look back, you’ll see Casemiro goes in on his backside.
Martin Keown offers Man Utd player advice
“When you go in on your backside, your foot has to come up. Ok he wins the ball, his studs are showing, but then his foot goes above the ball and catches his opponent.
“If he tries to slide in on his side with a different technique, he can pinch that ball and he doesn’t endanger his opponent. That for me has crept into the game, you see a lot now people going in, he’s sort of leaping into the challenge.
“I know it looks worse in slow motion and I would like the PGMOL to look at it, the final thing the referee sees when he comes to the pitch-side is the actual action in full speed.”
Now Casemiro has been sent off twice, he will probably look into his slide tackling technique and alter it slightly to prevent future dismissals.
But other than that, the midfield enforcer does not need to change his game. He has been quite simply brilliant for Man Utd so far.
Meanwhile, Ben Jacobs has told TEAMtalk the chances of Man Utd getting Harry Kane in the summer.
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