Who starts in the engine room against Sheriff?

Wednesday 14 September 2022 07:00

There could be a big call to make for Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag when it comes to the composition of his midfield for Thursday's Europa League tie against Sheriff Tiraspol.

Casemiro made his full debut for the Reds, following a summer switch from Real Madrid, in the opening game in the competition against Real Sociedad.

With United losing 1-0 to a controversial penalty, the focus turns to Chisinau, particularly with the weekend's game with Leeds United postponed and an international break to follow.

Will United go full strength in Moldova? Video

Will United go full strength in Moldova?

The Debate | The panel wonder if postponements will affect Erik's team selection for the Sheriff clash...

This week's panel on The Debate discussed the personnel primed for the engine room for the away tie, with Scott McTominay likely to be available after being rested for the Real Sociedad encounter.

Whether it comes down to a straight choice between Casemiro and McTominay to anchor the midfield, as both could play together, the opinion was that Scott's fine form deserves reward.

"I think Erik ten Hag has shown a degree of loyalty," said James Ducker of The Daily Telegraph. "Scott McTominay has had a decent start and Ten Hag has made that point that he's got a new signing here but this lad is doing quite well and warrants keeping his place. 

"I think there has been an element of that."


Former United striker Danny Webber added: "I think it shows that, when a new signing comes in, you can see how people react. Scott has gone: 'I know Casemiro is coming in but I want to fight to play with him or fight to keep him out', whichever way it is.

"It's healthy competition and he has been on the front foot, defending, sticking his foot in and doing the dirty side of the game really well, which has probably afforded Ten Hag the chance to keep Casemiro on the sidelines to build his fitness up.

"He's not been desperate to throw him straight in and it has been working."

Ian Irving, who works for Premier League Productions and The Athletic, provided his thoughts on Casemiro's situation, following the Brazilian's introduction to the squad.

"I was shocked when Casemiro didn't start the Arsenal game," he admitted. "I have to say, I was absolutely certain he would come in for that game as it was such an important game for United.

"I'd been at Leicester as well and was telling anyone who would listen how amazing I thought he was when he came on. It was his game at the King Power. I'm sure ex-pros appreciate it more than we do but everyone was giving him the ball, whether from the front or the back, they were looking for Casemiro and wanting him to control it.

"He was not necessarily the playmaker but controlling the game. Sitting deep, receiving passes and taking responsibility for the team to see out a 1-0 win. That's why I thought he'd play against Arsenal. For breaking up play and everything else, he's built a brilliant career doing that, as someone who is taking responsibility all the time. Christian Eriksen is a similar player as people trust him with the ball.

"Casemiro looked a player against Leicester but when I watched Real Sociedad, like James quite politely said, he didn't quite look match sharp and ready though."

Casemiro already feeling at home


United's new midfielder says he is very comfortable with his new surroundings.

Ex-United defender Wes Brown is in no doubt of the importance of what has become our final game of September, with the team desperate to bounce back from the reverse to La Real last time out.

"We need points on the table," said the former England international. "The manager has got expectations for the players to be better every single game. 

"I do think we will win the game and we don't want to be nervous going into it. The manager will make sure we focus on playing well and doing what we've been doing in training with the intensity and physical side. He wants it sharp. 

"This game will just be a stepping stone for the rest of the season. He knows the way he wants us to play and we should be winning this."