Why Erik's substitutions are helping the Reds

Thursday 08 September 2022 13:28

Substitutions are becoming such a key part of Premier League football, now five are allowed during the course of the 90 minutes.

Erik ten Hag has been grasping the opportunity to switch things around and, after his very first change at Old Trafford yielded a goal for Amad in the pre-season friendly, we have been keeping tabs on how he has been utilising his options off the bench.

When we asked him about this recently, he said: "I think it’s good [to be able to make five substitutions]. You can involve more players in matches and players are happier. There is also a disadvantage because you take players off that are less happy when they come off! But we have to cover so many games so it gives you a chance to manage the squad and to manage to [get] better results."

Six players added to UEFA squad


Some of our youngsters are named on the club's Europa League B list.

These are the alterations made by Ten Hag during our Premier League matches so far, as he prepares to take charge of the side in European competition for the first time. The Europa League tie against Real Sociedad may offer more opportunities for minutes for members of the squad as we look to make a positive start to Group E. 


A far-from-perfect beginning for the boss as we slipped to a 2-1 loss to the Seagulls on the opening weekend. The south-coast side have continued to impress since their first-ever win at Old Trafford but changes were made in a bid to recover a two-goal deficit at the interval. Eight minutes into the second half, Cristiano Ronaldo was introduced for Fred, giving us an out-and-out striker as Christian Eriksen had been playing as a 'false nine'. An Alexis Mac Allister own goal gave us hope and Ten Hag ended up making all of his allocated substitutions in a bid to retrieve the situation. 

Donny van de Beek replaced Scott McTominay with 12 minutes left before a last throw of the dice saw Tyrell Malacia (for Luke Shaw), Anthony Elanga (for Jadon Sancho) and Alejandro Garnacho (for Bruno Fernandes) all coming on for the period of stoppage time.


As was the case against Brighton, it could be argued the substitutions did have a positive effect but there were few positives to take from a heavy 4-0 defeat in the capital. Erik admitted he could have changed all 11 players at half-time, with the Reds conceding four goals inside 35 minutes. A triple change was made during the break with Lisandro Martinez, Shaw and Fred coming off.

Raphael Varane, Malacia and McTominay helped steady the ship and Elanga replaced Sancho again, this time on the hour mark. One final move, to bring van de Beek on for former Bee Christian Eriksen, ensured all five substitutions were completed again as the second half remained goalless.


Our season really got off and running with this memorable victory and the manager's tactical tweaks paid off. A goal to the good, through Jadon Sancho's effort, he decided not to rest on our laurels and sent Anthony Martial out for the second half, in place of Elanga. The Frenchman set up the decisive second goal for Marcus Rashford and helped provide a focal point in attack as the Reds produced a stirring display. On 71 minutes, Fred provided some more steel in midfield, with Sancho withdrawn, which was another sensible move given the dynamic of the game. Liverpool did pull one back, through Mohamed Salah, but, five minutes later, Ronaldo (for Rashford), van de Beek (for Eriksen) and Aaron Wan-Bissaka (for Diogo Dalot) were introduced to help United professionally see the job out in the closing stages. 


This was a tight affair and the first time Erik did not take up the option of using all five subs. Fernandes's second-half winner came 13 minutes before Ronaldo replaced Sancho as the Reds looked for a key second goal. The option of handing Casemiro his debut, in the 80th minute, appeared a sound choice as he screened the defence with the Saints looking for an equaliser, with wide forward Elanga making way. In injury time, Fred took over from Eriksen with the Reds successfully preserving a clean sheet to earn three precious points on the road.


Another hard-fought 1-0 victory and, again, just the three substitutions from the boss. Sancho's calmly taken goal proved enough but Casemiro for Elanga was deemed the correct option as the Foxes looked for a route back into the game. That first change came in the 59th minute and two more followed as Ten Hag tweaked things as the half wore on. Ronaldo again added his nous and threat to attack, in place of Sancho and, when Rashford's race was run, Fred was once again the go-to guy in the final minutes to help see the Reds over the line with his industry and ability to break down attacks.


Ten Hag's Matchday Q&A


Find out what the boss is expecting from our Europa League fixture against Real Sociedad.


This was another stern test for Ten Hag's Reds against the table-topping Gunners who came into the match with a flawless 100 per cent record. Antony's debut strike lit up Old Trafford and our first substitution happened only a couple of minutes before Bukayo Saka's equaliser, with Ronaldo replacing our goalscorer. On 67 minutes, seconds after Rashford had restored the lead, the planned switch of Fred for Sancho still went ahead. United gained more control and added a third, through Rashford again, before the boss responded to Mikel Arteta's bold alterations to his side by taking off Martinez and two-goal Rashford, who were feeling the effects of a physical encounter. Harry Maguire took over the armband and Casemiro added his considerable experience to proceedings as the hosts looked more likely to score again in the final 10 minutes plus injury time, rather than the north Londoners.