Ten Hag praises 'happy' Rashford as Man Utd host Sociedad
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer failed to win a trophy during his time as Manchester United manager. However, in Raphael Varane, the Norwegian has provided Erik ten Hag with a big welcome gift over at Old Trafford. The centre-back has been in fine form this season and, with Harry Maguire struggling for form, looks set to play a big role as the Red Devils hunt a first piece of silverware since 2017…
Manchester United signed Varane back in the summer transfer window of 2021, landing the France international a decade after Sir Alex Ferguson had missed out on his signature.
But it’s taken 12 months for the 2018 World Cup winner to prove he can cut it in the Premier League.
Solskjaer was delighted when United signed Varane, believing the 29-year-old would be the perfect partner for Maguire at centre-back as he plotted a path to title glory.
Yet things, unfortunately for him, didn’t work out that way.
Varane has often struggled with injuries during his time at United, with the player sorely missed as Solskjaer’s reign imploded a year ago.
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Instead of challenging for the Premier League title, it soon became apparent the Red Devils would struggle to even qualify for the Champions League.
Even after Solskjaer’s sacking, Varane didn’t set the world alight. He performed well when called upon but just couldn’t string together consecutive starts.
At the start of the season, it looked like it might be a tricky campaign for the former Real Madrid and Lens star.
Varane was forced to go on an individual training ground in pre-season, leading to his camp becoming concerned he wouldn’t be to Ten Hag’s liking.
His mood likely didn’t improve when he found himself on the bench for defeats to Brighton and Brentford.
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However, ever since, Varane has bounced back. He now appears to have Ten Hag’s trust, something that’s not easy obtain given the Dutchman’s demanding style.
As United have gone four Premier League matches unbeaten, the 29-year-old has rediscovered his mojo to become an undroppable presence.
Both Varane and Martinez were able to nullify the threat of Roberto Firmino as the Red Devils beat Liverpool 2-1 at the end of last month.
They also helped United keep clean sheets in the victories over Southampton and Leicester that followed.
And the United star was impressive again in the club’s 3-1 win over Arsenal last weekend, successfully keeping Gabriel Jesus quiet on a raucous afternoon at Old Trafford.
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Most of Solskjaer’s signings, these days, don’t even make the team.
Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are often stuck on the bench, with the duo behind Varane and Diogo Dalot in the pecking order.
It’s a similar story with Donny van de Beek and Cristiano Ronaldo, with the pair become accustomed to spending more time among the substitutes.
Amad is likely to be sent out on loan, along with Facundo Pellistri.
And Edinson Cavani, Daniel James, Odion Ighalo and Alex Telles have already departed, despite only being recruited in recent years.
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Regarding Varane, meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar recently hailed the United star and explained why he was such a big admirer.
“I’ve played against Varane many times! He’s a very good centre-back,” stated the Brazil international.
“He’s quick and intelligent, his positioning is very good. He’s a top player.
“He hardly ever gets it wrong, that’s why he’s won so much.”
Varane will be hoping to start when United lock horns with Sheriff in the Europa League on Thursday night (5.45pm).
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