Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag has defended his decision to make only one substitution against Newcastle at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils had only two shots on target against Newcastle United as Manchester United were missing their creative spark in the team, Christian Eriksen. The Danish attacking midfielder was unavailable for the match because of illness.
Replacing Cristiano Ronaldo with Marcus Rashford was the only change Ten Hag made against Newcastle United.
Asked if he made one substitution because he was happy with his side’s performance, Ten Hag replied: “Exactly. Some players were not available, as you know, today. Christian Eriksen is not available, Anthony Martial is not available, and Scott McTominay is not available.
“So that was the feeling I had. I brought freshness with Rashy, I think he had an impact. If he scored that goal then you do everything right.
“Now we have to accept this but most important see this as the next step in our development, our progress, deal with this and focus on the next game [against Tottenham]. And that’s going to be a big game.”
On the reason behind the substitution of Cristiano Ronaldo, Erik Ten hag added: “We have to cover four games in 10 days, and especially for the strikers I want to keep them fresh.
“I want to keep them all fresh, so we have to rotate there. We have some problems there, Martial is not available at this moment, so we have a player less.
“Rashy was under the weather, so he didn’t have the energy for a whole game, so we have to plan that, we have to plan that to cover the four games because we want to win all the four games – or, at least, get a result in all four games.”
Erik Ten Hag also quashed the idea that his side lacks fluidity without Christian Eriksen.
The Dutch added: “We have a squad, and you see the last weeks we have had more than 11 players who can contribute and also this team played really well.”
Meanwhile, Gary Nevile has revealed that Manchester United missed Christian Eriksen against Newcastle.
Gary Neville said on his podcast on SkySports: “It didn’t feel like a good performance from United. Eriksen didn’t play and it looked like they missed him.
“They had Fred, Casemiro, and Fernandes, and I think when they’ve been doing really well – apart from at City, who are just a phenomenal team – Eriksen has been a big player.
“And when he doesn’t play you maybe realize how big a player he is because he connects and glues the team together.
“He’s got that pass through the lines very quickly, he sees things, he looks over his shoulder, he’s scanning all the time.
“It’s Paul Scholes that told me that by the way! Not through my own punditry, but you know that’s the case.
“It allows Fernandes really and him [to share the creative burden]. You don’t just fall upon Fernandes, you’ve got two of them then.
“And I just thought the balance was wrong today in midfield.
“It’s difficult, we’ve got these gantry monitors we’re watching on, but it just felt like it wasn’t quite the same fluidity that we’ve seen with [Eriksen] in the team.”