Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag reviews the Fulham win
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Manchester United, in their 3-1 win over Fulham on Sunday, looked exhausted. Given Erik ten Hag’s side have been playing every three days most weeks since the World Cup, that’s certainly somewhat understandable. However, the Red Devils are likely to receive a triple boost when the likes of Raphael Varane, Anthony Martial and Christian Eriksen all return from injury in the foreseeable future.
Manchester United were fortunate to beat Fulham on Sunday, with the Cottagers taking the lead through Aleksandar Mitrovic.
However, the Serbia international would go from hero to zero after receiving a straight red card for pushing referee Chris Kavanagh – with Willian and Marco Silva also receiving their marching orders.
United then rallied to claim victory, with Bruno Fernandes bagging a brace and Marcel Sabitzer on target.
But there’s no denying the international break has come at the perfect time for Ten Hag and his team given how zapped they’ve looked in recent weeks.
What bodes well, however, is the imminent returns of three players who can have a big role to play after the stoppage.
One of them is Varane, with the France international absent from the Fulham game due to injury – enabling a rare start for Harry Maguire as a result.
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While Maguire did well enough, he incurred the wrath of fans inside Old Trafford with his lack of speed and poor decision-making.
And Varane, when fully fit and available, is a class above.
The France international has struck up a strong partnership with Lisandro Martinez at the back this term, with the duo helping United become far tougher to break down – the 7-0 mauling at the hands of Liverpool aside.
And United will benefit from having Varane available for the latter stages of the campaign as they hunt a stunning cup treble.
The Red Devils have had to cope without Eriksen ever since January, much to Ten Hag’s frustration.
The Denmark international has been a key player for the Red Devils this term following his arrival on a free transfer from Brentford back in the summer.
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And Ten Hag, speaking recently, said the midfielder would be available for selection again next month.
“Yes, some point in April, he will be back,” stated the 53-year-old.
“He is doing really well, really good in his rehab.
“The progress is very good and we have to see how that develops in the coming weeks.”
Another welcome return will be Martial.
The France international has become something of a forgotten figure at the club this season due to his ongoing injury issues.
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Yet Martial will represent a goalscoring upgrade on Wout Weghorst, having started to resume training before the victory over Fulham.
While the 27-year-old can be infuriatingly inconsistent, he brings pace and potency Weghorst lacks.
And whether he can produce the goods to avoid United selling him at the end of the season, amid the club’s interest in Harry Kane and Victor Osimhen, remains to be seen.
Ten Hag, meanwhile, is adamant United have made big progress under his guidance since his appointment back in the summer.
“One thing is important; don’t think too far ahead, go from game to game,” said the 53-year-old.
“But I think we had a really massive run from Christmas on, I think we play 25 games or so.
“I think two defeats and the rest draws, and especially a lot of wins. You see the progress in the team.
“This team has a strong character, strong belief, strong determination to win games, and yeah, today was an example of it.
“When you have a difficult period in a game, stay in the game, fight back, and turn the game.
“I never think so far ahead, I am thinking how to develop, getting into the process, make sure you get progress, and go from game to game. We have to win every game.”
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