Malacia: I had to grasp the opportunity
When Tyrell Malacia arrived at Manchester United in the summer, as the first signing of the Erik ten Hag era, he had a reputation of being a relatively reserved character who transformed the moment he stepped onto the pitch.
Dubbed ‘The Pitbull’ in his native Netherlands, due to his tenacity and dedication to dispossessing his opponent, it was clear that Malacia would prove to be a key asset for the Reds this season.
But Tyrell would have to wait for his opportunity, as Ten Hag opted to select the Reds' established left-back Luke Shaw for the first two Premier League fixtures of the 2022/23 campaign.
In a recent interview with Dutch TV network Rijnmond, Malacia revealed he “wasn’t stressed” about starting the season on the substitutes' bench and instead patiently waited for his chance.
“I wasn’t stressed then [at the start of the season],” said the 23-year-old. “I know what my qualities are.
“I knew that, in the end, I would be a good competitor for that position.
"If I got that one chance, I would have to grab it.”
Ten Hag handed Malacia his first Premier League start at the end of August, for the visit of Liverpool to Old Trafford.
This was the Dutch defender’s chance, and he knew he had to take it.
“The manager made the choice to let me start against Liverpool. Then you have to turn up."
Tyrell put in a superb display against our rivals, as Ten Hag’s side won 2-1, and since then, Malacia has gone from strength to strength.
The Dutchman has formed a formidable unit with fellow defenders Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez. The quartet have a strong understanding between them and clean sheets are celebrated just as much as goals at the other end. Blocks and tackles are met with high-fives, chest pumps and cries of encouragement.
Heading into the international break, Malacia was in a rich vein of form for United, and he will hope to continue this when the Netherlands face Poland in the Nations League this evening.
Premier League football returns for the Reds on Sunday 2 October, when we face Manchester City in our first local derby of the season. Judging by his interview, Tyrell will want to be the starting left-back for our trip to the Etihad Stadium.