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Erik ten Hag demands four Man Utd stars to ‘step up’ as admission paints worrying picture | Football | Sport


Erik ten Hag has called on four Manchester United players to lead them out of their disastrous start to the season amid rumblings of a lack of strong characters in his dressing room. The United manager wants his leaders to step up in the absence of a vital duo who are expected to be out until next year.

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

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

Failure to do so would put pressure on Ten Hag, who have been hit by an unprecedented wave of injury problems at the start of his second campaign in England.

Ten Hag recently confirmed that Jonny Evans has not been ruled out for the visit of Luton. Days earlier, he said he did not expect Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez to return to contention until after Christmas.

And he admitted that the absence of the two is a cause of great concern as he desperately searches for ‘routine’, a vital part of his philosophy that has been starved 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,” explained Ten Hag on Friday.

“So a lot of times, you have to swap the back four, and then you don’t get the routine. In moments like that, it’s so important to have routines.”

Ten Hag named four of his players who he hopes will fill the shoes of Casemiro and Martinez 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 shows leadership in such moments.

“And Bruno, of course. We have a lot of players who have character and personality to lead and lead the team.

Ten Hag have made an interesting snub to Raphael Varane, despite an illustrious 30-year World Cup-winning Real Madrid career, amid reports that all is not well behind the scenes between the pair.

The Dutchman’s decision to leave Varane for Evans in the 3-0 Manchester derby win is said to have raised eyebrows, and he has since retired from a bench role in games.

But despite being left out of the public outcry at the Ten Hag Rally, there is no doubt that Varane will be needed to lead United away from the dark clouds surrounding Old Trafford in the coming weeks.

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