COMMENT

Is Ten Hag trying to recreate the Rio-Vidic era?

United have registered two clean sheets in a row under the Varane and Martinez partnership at the back.

Christian Eriksen of Manchester United and Bruno Fernandes talk tactics with manager Erik ten Hag during Manchester United v Arsenal, Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester, UK on September 4, 2022

Manchester United is in the rebuilding process under Erik Ten Hag who is their current manager and he seems to be over the moon after Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez showed a master class performance against Leicester City and Arsenal recently.

United was stuck in a rut in their first two games of the season before bouncing back to winning ways after a major change in their defense.

Ten Hag has been playing Varane over Harry Maguire in United’s last three games and one funny aspect is that they have won all of them.

Maguire signed for United from Leicester in 2019 with a record fee of €87M. This was absurd for him considering that he has never stepped up to the occasion especially when United needs him.

Maguire’s lackluster performance led to the acquisition of Martinez from Ajax who has been solid at the back after being paired with Varane.

Martinez’s nickname is ‘the butcher’ as he is a no-nonsense defender and he is always everywhere at the back. Ever since the partnership of Varane and Martinez came into existence, memories of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand have been evoked as they were the solid pillars during the Sir Alex Ferguson era.

Their style of play was unique and it was difficult to expose either of them during a match. Their communication was also superb and we are seeing the same under Ten Hag’s Regime.

Varane and Martinez have been psyching up each other especially after clearing imminent danger and this is not different from what their predecessors used to do. It is always a form of appreciating someone’s efforts and boosting their morale.

United has been able to register two back-to-back clean sheets with this duo and they are building a strong foundation at the back. Clean sheets were common in the Fergie era and the current manager is fixing his defense to get back to how it used to be.

What remains is for Martinez and Varane to start appearing on the scoring sheets just like Rio and Vidic who registered 26 goals during their time. Despite the defense starting to click and taking shape, a lot of sacrifices will be needed if they really want to be a replica of Rio and Vidic.

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