Man Utd fragility summed up by Casemiro gesture with future now uncertain

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Casemiro will be delighted that the international break has come around to give him a much-needed rest from playing for Manchester United. The midfielder has endured a lacklustre start to the new campaign and was called out by Erik ten Hag after being hooked at half-time against Brentford.

Casemiro struggled to impress in the first half against the Bees, who took the lead at Old Trafford when Matias Jensen scored early on. He was subsequently replaced by Christian Eriksen, with Ten Hag later insisting that he wanted his side to ‘play more football’ in a brutal swipe.

United went on to secure an impressive comeback victory without Casemiro on the pitch thanks to a couple of late goals from Scott McTominay. It remains to be seen whether Casemiro will be able to put things right after the international break, with the 31-year-old having experienced a major drop-off in form compared to last season.

He looked an excellent signing for the vast majority of his debut campaign at United, with his superior midfield quality and unshakeable winning mentality rubbing off on his team-mates. Things have not worked out so far this season, though, leaving him visibly short on confidence after being left exposed on too many occasions.

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Casemiro’s ageing profile has undoubtedly been a factor in his recent decline, while a lack of midfield support from his team-mates has done little to help his cause. He is also facing more competition for a regular starting spot following the summer signing of Sofyan Amrabat and will need to improve in order to avoid slipping down the pecking order.

The Brazilian now finds himself at risk of losing his place in the side after the international break and joining the likes of Mason Mount and Antony on the list of signings that have not worked out under Ten Hag. He was recently singled out for criticism by former United coach Rene Meulensteen, who questioned his mentality before accusing him of failing to keep up with the pace of the Premier League.

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“Everything goes at 100 kilometres per hour, that is the big problem in midfield,” Meulensteen told ESPN. “They have no energy and that is how the defence gets into trouble. He [Ten Hag] wants to put a lot of pressure on with a lot of intensity, just like at Ajax. But he doesn’t have the players for that. The players don’t have the mentality to constantly put pressure on.

“Casemiro, for example, can’t handle it at all. Ten Hag has a certain conviction about how he wants to play but he has to find ways to get there.”

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