Ten Hag left looking silly by Man Utd duo now helping save him from the sack

Ten Hag questions refereeing decisions as Man Utd lose in Copenhagen

At the start of the season, Scott McTominay and Harry Maguire were deemed surplus to requirements by Erik ten Hag. Now, just a few months on they are seen as two of the most important leaders in the Manchester United dressing room by their manager. 

Both players were expected to leave for West Ham in August having been transfer-listed over the summer yet moves never materialised. The Hammers were unable to meet United’s £40million asking price for McTominay after having a £30m bid rejected on the spot.

Meanwhile, £30m was enough for the Red Devils to green-light Maguire’s switch to London Stadium, only for the deal to collapse after United and the player were unable to come to an agreement on a suitable pay-out for his departure.

But with an ongoing injury crisis at the club, the duo have become important parts of Ten Hag’s first team and are making a positive impact off the pitch in ensuring that heads don’t drop following a difficult start to the season. 

Speaking after United’s 4-3 defeat to Copenhagen in the Champions League on Wednesday, Ten Hag stressed that there were plenty of experienced players in the dressing room capable of lifting the rest of the squad, including McTominay and Maguire. “Definitely, we have such characters who can do it,” he said.

“You mentioned Rapha, but I will mention Andre Onana, Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay, who in such moments show leadership, and Bruno, of course. We have enough players with character and personality to step up and lead the team. Casemiro and Martinez are not there, so others have to fill it in.”

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Maguire was stripped of his captaincy last season by Ten Hag, who gave the armband to Bruno Fernandes instead. However, many pundits believe the Portuguese star isn’t “captain material”.

Gary Neville and Roy Keane have both launched into rants over his antics on the pitch while Micah Richard claims Fernandes “plays for himself” when United go behind. 

Speaking on The Rest is Football podcast, Richards said: “Have you noticed what Fernandes does though? When Man United go behind, and he is not having a good game, what he does is he starts running around trying to get the crowd on side.

“He is running out of position trying to get everyone to believe that he is working really hard for the team, but really he is just playing for himself. It was staggering to see. Then, every decision that goes against United, his arms are up in the air. As a captain, I don’t know if the pressure is too much, but it is not quite working out.”

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