Seven Man Utd transfers Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants answers for as trio set for January exits
Ex-Manchester United star Louis Saha believes that Erik ten Hag could be ‘scapegoating’ Raphael Varane following his recent absences. The defender has hardly featured for the Red Devils since returning from injury, with Harry Maguire and Jonny Evans both preferred as starting centre-backs.
United have made a shaky start to the season, with their performances at both ends of the pitch failing to convince supporters that they are progressing. The Red Devils have struggled defensively, with injuries not helping Ten Hag’s cause.
With Luke Shaw, Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia among his absentees, the former Ajax boss has been forced to call upon his fringe players to step up and hold down the fort at the back. Varane was among those absentees for a short while, but the France international has since returned to full fitness.
Despite being readily available, Varane has struggled for minutes and been forced to unfamiliarly warm the bench – with ‘tactics’ being cited by Ten Hag as the reason behind Maguire and Evans being selected more frequently than the ex-Real Madrid defender.
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Speaking about Varane’s omissions, Saha has revealed that he has a suspicion that the 30-year-old could be being scapegoated by his manager – somewhat following in the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho, who have also felt the wrath of the United boss. He told Betfred: “It could be a breakdown in the relationship between player and manager. I know he’s been injured often, but he needs to be given the chance to get back to his best after a spell out.
“It’s true that everybody needs competition but you can’t fiddle with the defence too much because that department provides you with a solid foundation. I don’t understand why Raphaël’s been dropped, so maybe something’s been said behind closed doors. It’s as if he’s being scapegoated in some way and I don’t like it.
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“I would understand the decision to drop him if there was another defender playing outstandingly well, but that’s not the case. Nobody’s really stood out. I respect the decision of the manager because you need to make changes when your team isn’t playing well.
“However, the defence is one area that you don’t mess with because it can put stress on the goalkeeper, especially André Onana who’s new to the Premier League. I don’t understand what’s happened with Raphaël in the last couple of weeks to justify the reasoning for him being dropped.”
It remains to be seen whether Varane continues to struggle for minutes and if he is eventually forced out of Old Trafford, amid interest from the Saudi Pro League. Following a public dispute with Ten Hag, Ronaldo left United last year and Sancho looks set to follow suit in the January transfer window after suggesting that he was being ‘scapegoated’ by his manager after the Red Devils boss criticised his training levels.
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