Erik ten Hag demands four Man Utd stars to ‘step up’ as worrying admission made

Erik ten Hag’s position at Man Utd is being questioned by some

Erik ten Hag has called on four players to lead Manchester United out of their disastrous start to the season before a background of noise surrounding the lack of strong characters in his dressing room. The United manager wants his leaders to step up in the absence of a crucial duo expected to be missing until next year.

United’s 4-3 defeat at FC Copenhagen on Wednesday was their ninth in 17 games this term, leaving them at risk of a Champions League group-stage exit.

The Red Devils host Luton Town at Old Trafford on Saturday, hoping to enter the November international break with a fourth Premier League win in five outings.

A failure to do so would intensify pressure on Ten Hag, who has been hit with an unprecedented wave of injury problems at the start of his second campaign in England.

Ten Hag most recently confirmed Jonny Evans was ruled out of Luton’s visit. Days before, he stated he didn’t expect Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez to return to contention until after Christmas.

And he has admitted that the pair’s absence is a major cause for concern as he desperately searches for ‘routines’, a crucial part of his philosophy he has been starved of this season.

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“Casemiro and Licha Martinez are not there, so others have to fill in. I think we can step up, but the injuries don’t help us,” Ten Hag explained on Friday.

“So often, you have to swap the back four, and then you don’t get the routine. In such moments, it’s so important to have routines.”

Ten Hag name-dropped four of his players who he expects to fill Casemiro and Martinez’s shoes and act as dressing room leaders during United’s rut.

He said: “We have such characters who can do it. I will mention Andre Onana, Harry [Maguire], and Scott McTominay, who show leadership in such moments.

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“And Bruno, of course. We have enough players with character and personality to step up and lead the team. But it’s also on others to step up.”

Ten Hag interestingly snubbed Raphael Varane, despite the 30-year-old World Cup winner’s illustrious Real Madrid career, amid reports that all isn’t well behind the scenes between the pair.

The Dutchman’s decision to drop Varane for Evans in the 3-0 Manchester derby defeat reportedly raised eyebrows, and he has been resigned to a bench role in the games since.

But despite being left out of Ten Hag’s public rallying cry, Varane will no doubt also be needed to guide United away from the dark clouds surrounding Old Trafford in the coming weeks.

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