In the midst of a challenging season for Manchester United, manager Erik ten Hag has made a startling revelation about his team selections. Ahead of the club's inaugural UEFA Champions League match for the 2023-24 season against Bayern Munich, Ten Hag admitted that he has never fielded his best starting XI since taking the helm at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils are gearing up for a pivotal match against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena this Wednesday. However, they will be without the services of at least 12 key players, including stalwarts like Raphael Varane, Mason Mount, and Harry Maguire, all sidelined due to injuries.
"There was always something, but you have to deal with it. I think I never started the best starting XI. That is football. You have to deal with it. I love these situations. You have to know what to do and focus on the process," Ten Hag remarked during a pre-match press conference.
Both Varane and Mount were seen training at Manchester United's Carrington facility on Tuesday, yet neither made the trip to Munich. Mount has been absent from the team's last three games, and Varane has missed two. This has coincided with a dip in form for Manchester United, who have suffered defeats in three of their last four Premier League outings.
Adding to the list of absentees, former captain Harry Maguire sustained an injury during Tuesday's training, ruling him out of the upcoming clash against the Bundesliga champions.
The challenges don't end there for Ten Hag. Forwards Antony and Jadon Sancho are also unavailable. Antony's return has been delayed due to ongoing investigations surrounding him, while Sancho has been excluded from the senior team due to disciplinary reasons. Moreover, midfielder Donny van de Beek is not registered for European matches, making him ineligible for the Champions League fixture.
Despite the recent loss to Brighton, which saw Manchester United drop to 13th in the Premier League standings, Ten Hag remains optimistic. He believes the team doesn't require a significant overhaul. "No, we don't feel we need that. We are in a process. In parts of the game we play well. In parts of the game, we play below our levels. We need to be consistent for 90 plus minutes," he stated.
Bayern Munich, on the other hand, has had a strong start to their season, remaining undefeated with three wins and a draw. Recognizing the prowess of the German side, Ten Hag praised Bayern's "very attractive players who are very skillful." He emphasized the importance of staying focused throughout the match, acknowledging the challenge that lies ahead for his team.
As Manchester United prepares to face one of Europe's elite teams, the spotlight will be on Ten Hag and his players to rise to the occasion, even amidst the adversity they currently face.