Erik ten Hag: Man Utd boss makes bold claim his strongest squad has been available just once in 18 months | Football News

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has made the astonishing claim that he has only been able to select his strongest squad once in the past 18 months.

United have been besieged by injuries throughout a difficult season and Ten Hag is facing another crisis ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against Coventry at Wembley with the news Harry Maguire is a doubt after only returning to training on Friday.

Maguire picked up a knock at Bournemouth last time out and although he could be available at the weekend, Ten Hag is definitely without defenders Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw, Victor Lindelof, Jonny Evans and Tyrell Malacia.

Discussing his side’s injury issues this term, Ten Hag made the bold suggestion that he has been able to choose his strongest squad on just one occasion in the past year and a half – against rivals Manchester City in January 2023.

Is this the only time Erik ten Hag has been able to select his strongest squad as Man Utd manager?
Is this the only time Ten Hag has been able to select his strongest squad in 18 months?

“In 18 months I have never had my favourite team on the pitch, because the players are injured. That concerns me,” Ten Hag said at his press conference on Friday.

“In fact, one time against Man City last season in the home game – that was the only time we had a full squad when I could pick my team. In all the other games, there was always an injury aspect that we had to deal with. That’s normal in football, but not as many as we have had.

“When you have so many injuries as we have had in crucial, key positions, you can’t deliver the results you want. That’s my truth. Others can have different truths, but I can’t put energy into that.”

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Watch free highlights of Man Utd’s 2-1 win over Man City in the Premier League last season

This season, United have had more than 30 injuries that have led to one or more games being missed, according to Premier Injuries data, and their latest injury crisis comes despite playing fewer games than last campaign.

The amount of injuries Ten Hag has had to manage is undoubtedly a factor in United’s current struggles, but their inconsistent performances and results – as well as the arrival of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s INEOS – continue to create uncertainty around the Dutchman’s future.

Asked if he believes he has been treated unfairly at times, Ten Hag – who guided United to Carabao Cup glory and a third-place finish in the Premier League during his first season in charge, said: “I don’t put energy into whether I’m judged fairly or not fairly.

“I know what we are doing here and I know why I am here – to bring trophies and to create economic value. We are working on those.

“In the process, you have setbacks and I look at this and can see it realistically and rationally. I am only focusing on my team – to improve my team and individuals. That’s what I’m here for.”

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Ten Hag says he has been paying close attention to Jadon Sancho’s form during his loan spell at Borussia Dortmund but adds the situation has not changed regarding his return

Man Utd’s remaining fixtures

April 21: Coventry City – FA Cup semi-final (Wembley), kick-off 3.30pm

April 24: Sheffield United – Premier League (H), kick-off 8pm

April 27: Burnley – Premier League (H), kick-off 3pm

May 6: Crystal Palace – Premier League (A), kick-off 8pm, live on Sky Sports

May 12: Arsenal – Premier League (H), kick-off 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports

May 15: Newcastle – Premier League (H), kick-off 8pm, live on Sky Sports

May 19: Brighton – Premier League (A) – kick-off 4pm

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