Christian Eriksen’s absence for Manchester United during Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Newcastle has shown just how important the midfielder is for Erik ten Hag.
It was a disappointing performance from United at Old Trafford, as they failed to capitalise on a handful of opportunities that should have seen them claim all three points. Ten Hag’s side were left to rue their missed chances as both Marcus Rashford and Fred spurned great moments to win the game for the Reds.
Fred’s first-half performance against the Magpies would not have done anything to convince his manager that he deserves a place in the starting XI anytime soon. The Brazilian should have put United 1-0 up after Rashford timed his run to perfection to beat the offside trap, take the ball past an onrushing Nick Pope, before picking out the midfielder in front of an open goal.
Fred’s attempt to place his shot somehow saw the ball fly past the post, as a collection of frustrated groans rang around Old Trafford.
More often than not, when a player misses a game, they would be right to fear that someone else will step in and stake a claim for their place. Fred’s alarming display has had the opposite impact on Eriksen’s security in Ten Hag’s starting line-up, as the Dane became even more indispensable without kicking a ball.
Some eyebrows were raised when United announced the signing of the 30-year-old on a free transfer this summer, yet Ten Hag knew exactly how important Eriksen would be to his United team, as his comments after his arrival showed.
He told the club’s media: “He’s an experienced player. He plays in countries abroad, in Italy, in Holland, a long time in England, so he knows the Premier League. It’s an absolute advantage that we have him in. I think he is a magnificent football player and I think the fans will enjoy watching him, because he’s creative, he has ideas.
“I think especially our strikers will also be happy because he’s the one who can involve them in the game. The fact that we’ve got him, we have him now in our squad, tells everything, because I think we were really selective. It was not the point to get players in, but the right players in. I’m really happy that we succeeded with Christian Eriksen.”
It took United 34 attempts to score past Omonia last week, as the former Inter Milan midfielder sat on the bench for 70 minutes of the match. A few days later, Ten Hag’s side only managed two shots on target against Newcastle, as Eriksen’s creativity and ability to unlock defences was badly missed once again at Old Trafford.
With impending clashes against both Tottenham and Chelsea this week, United’s chances of success will heavily depend on Eriksen’s availability for selection.
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