Ten Hag’s “immense” Man Utd machine who won 71% duels now looks “too good” in new role

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Last night, as Manchester United laboured to a 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur, they added 210 minutes to their cumulative playing time over the previous five days.

While maintaining the lead in the race for the top four makes little difference, Erik ten Hag and the Red Devils will be disappointed with the outcome because they were so confident at the break.

Their defeat was probably brought on by exhaustion as well as some standout play from the visitors that rekindled a fan base unbound by Antonio Conte’s laboured football. They immediately sided with them, and it was successful.

Even so, Luke Shaw left north London with plenty of credit as he once again shone out of position despite conceding twice in one half. The Dutchman decided to leave Harry Maguire out of the team and instead used the natural left-back at center-back.

This strategy had been effective earlier in the campaign, but he was about to face his toughest test yet when he faced off against a seasoned pro like Harry Kane.

But the former Southampton star aced the test with flying colours, neutralising an elite player the entire match.

Luke Shaw’s performance against Tottenham Hotspur.
The 27-year-old’s 7.0 match rating may have understated the impact he had on yesterday’s outcome.

While defensive solidity was valued in the position he played, his technical prowess set him apart from other center-backs.

The unrelenting machine had 111 touches throughout the game, a 93% pass completion rate, and one key pass.

Combining this with one clearance, one block, three interceptions, and one tackle only serves to highlight Shaw’s superior all-around performance. According to Sofascore, Shaw also won 71% of the seven duels he took part in.

Mark Goldbridge, a well-known United supporter and pundit, even praised this position change on Twitter, suggesting that the success it has attracted may warrant making it a permanent change. He wrote: “Luke Shaw immense tonight! LCB until the end of the current season is required. He is simply too skilled.

Ten Hag hasn’t had any trouble winning over United supporters, but English football as a whole is now taking note after many previous Dutch exports had trouble taking their success across Europe.

With wise strategic choices like this one, the former Ajax manager only keeps enhancing his résumé.

Shaw has always been a reliable but unspectacular left-back, but if the Dutchman heeds Goldbridge’s advice, the £150,000-per-week star could now be set to enjoy his golden years in a prominent role as a ball-playing center-back.

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