The 2022-23 season is upon us and Manchester United are back on track after losing the first two games of the season, winning the last four matches in a row, which includes well-earned victories over Liverpool and Arsenal. The attitude shown on the pitch by our players this time around, with a special thanks to a few of our new signings, has changed for the better.
Erik ten Hag made six additions to the squad over the summer and fans can have no real complaints.
However, I still don’t think we are playing the football Ten Hag wants – too many long balls – but it is encouraging to see the new manager already solidifying the basis of a trusted line-up.
The former Ajax manager is proving to be a quick learner as well as a brilliant teacher.
Here are four early talking points from United’s season so far:
Pundits were wrong to focus on Lisandro Martinez’s height
This may come as breaking news to you, but Lisandro Martinez is 5’9″. Most pundits – including Jamie Carragher – gave their premature opinions on Martinez’s arrival based on his height as a centre-back. It hasn’t stopped him winning duels in the air against strikers who tower him in appearance, nor does it appear to lose many balls on the ground. The Argentine’s passion and sheer love for defending makes him a force for centre-forwards to fear. I don’t recall pundits worrying about Fabio Cannavaro or Franco Baresi and they were both 5’9″. It’s more the size of the fight in the dog than the size of the dog in the fight. He’s a pit bull.
Manchester United full backs coming alive
It’s important to remember full backs are integral to Ten Hag’s system, so we really shouldn’t downplay how good Diogo Dalot and Tyrell Malacia have been in recent weeks. Dalot has played six matches and already has more assists than he managed last season, while Malacia has looked a tremendous buy from Feyenoord. I’m happy with Luke Shaw being the back-up option at left-back, but I fear the worst when I think about Aaron Wan-Bissaka starting on the opposite flank.
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Scott McTominay deserves his place over Casemiro
There is no denying that McTominay has had a new lease of life under Ten Hag. He started the past four matches and kept new signing Casemiro out of the team in doing so. It would not only be unfair to drop McTominay now, but it would also set the wrong principles. McTominay has been key to helping United win back possession and the stats back it up. The Scotland international has won more tackles than any other United player and he ranks seventh in the Premier League for tackles won (11), not even for FBRef. I hope he makes it even harder for Casemiro with a strong performance against Crystal Palace at the weekend, because there are few things I like more than eating my words when it comes to a United player I previously said wasn’t up to it.
Marcus Rashford’s confidence growing
Rashford started last season traumatized by his penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final. Then there was the recovery from shoulder surgery. The team was all over the place when he returned and his confidence hit an all-time low, but now, under Erik ten Hag, things are starting to pick up for Rashford. It probably helps that there is now a sense of togetherness about this team, with players ready to pick each other up, unlike last season. Rashford has 3 goals and 2 assists so far this season. I can see his confidence growing along with his goal tally.