Erik ten Hag detailed two reasons why he picked Luke Shaw at centre-half ahead of Harry Maguire for the second straight match, and closed the book on Marcus Rashford’s disciplinary breach.
Manchester United moved into the Champions League places following a second successive league victory post-World Cup.
The pre-match headlines surrounded the benching of in-form forward, Marcus Rashford. Ten Hag kept his cards close to his chest when quizzed on the move, simply stating an “internal disciplinary” issue was the root of the problem.
Man Utd created an abundance of chances even with Rashford on the bench. However, the likes of Alejandro Garnacho and Anthony Martial both missed gilt-edged chances to put the Red Devils in front.
Ten Hag turned to Rashford at the break and with 15 minutes remaining, the 25-year-old came up trumps.
A powerful run saw Rashford drive through the heart of Wolves’ defence before rifling past Jose Sa from close range.
Rashford believed he’d doubled the lead and put the game to bed when scoring a second soon after, though his effort was ruled out for handball by VAR.
Regardless, United held on to secure a 1-0 victory at Molineux that saw the visitors climb above Tottenham into fourth spot.
Ten Hag considers Rashford issue case closed
Ten Hag was interviewed by BT Sport’s Des Kelly post-match and when told that was an emphatic way for Rashford to make amends, the Dutchman replied with a wry smile: “I think that happens often.
“It’s good, after the decision he came on and was bright, lively, and scored a goal. That is the right reaction.”
On whether he deemed Rashford’s indiscretion now a case closed, Ten Hag added: “Of course. Everyone has to match rules and values and if you react like [Rashford did], this is the right answer.”
On the game in general, the United boss said: “We’ve seen today it was not an easy game, you have to fight.
“In the first half we were not that good, both organisationally and also presence.
“The second half was better. Good [cameo] from Fred, he brought energy to the game and was linking up and winning second balls.
“You analyse the game and have a game-plan and sometimes things are not working as expected. Wolves did well, but the good thing is they didn’t create that many chances and we did.
“You have to be sharp. We had the chances to score the first goal [in the first half] but we didn’t.
“I was not happy at half time, I told the players ‘with this attitude you will not win this game, everyone has to deliver 10 percent more’.”
The subject of Ten Hag’s “re-shaped” defence was then broached.
Luke Shaw at centre-back explained
Ten Hag selected left-back Luke Shaw out of position at centre-half for the second straight league match. Shaw partnered Raphael Varane, thus leaving Harry Maguire kicking his heels on the bench once more.
“The back four and the goalkeeper did a good job,” continued Ten Hag. “But it’s always teamwork and first half the pressing was not good, second half – much better.”
When asked if Shaw playing at left centre-back was simply because he’s left-footed – unlike Maguire – Ten Hag nodded before also highlighting Shaw’s far superior speed.
“That is one of the reasons,” continued Ten Hag.
“You get better angles in possession, but in this game it was important [to pick Shaw] because they have speed on the right wing.
“Shaw can defend that and cover that and allows us to bring the left-back [Tyrell Malacia] higher. With Shaw it was always protected.”
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