Kobbie Mainoo has become a standout player for Erik ten Hag this season (Image: Getty). Erik ten Hag, the manager of Manchester United, believes that young star Kobbie Mainoo is benefiting from the guidance of seasoned pro Casemiro. The 18-year-old Mainoo, who hails from Stockport, has been making waves in United’s first team, forming a strong partnership with Argentine winger Alejandro Garnacho and £72 million striker Rasmus Hojlund. Ten Hag thinks that having Champions League winner Casemiro around has been crucial for Mainoo’s growth.
He also feels that the young player is bringing out the best in Casemiro. Ten Hag said: “We are happy to have him (Casemiro) back and when he plays together with Mainoo, I think they can benefit each other.” There is a bond there. Casa takes that responsibility of talking to Kobbie.
I see it in the dressing room, I see it on the pitch, training and in games. Ten Hag also praised Casemiro’s influence on the field, saying: “You see the impact of a player like Casemiro when he’s there. He gives you calmness and composure on the ball, and he gives you options.” Injuries have forced the manager to rely on young players this season, and they’ve certainly risen to the challenge.
When Garnacho scored the first goal in last week’s 3-0 victory over West Ham, he was joined by Mainoo and Hojlund for a photo that quickly became popular online. United’s tradition of nurturing their own talent continues with these three promising players, who are causing quite a stir amongst the fans at Old Trafford. However, Ten Hag knows there will be challenges along the way. Unlike Sir Alex Ferguson, who was getting ready to introduce the Class of 92 two decades ago, Ten Hag is bringing young players into a team that lacks experienced winners.
Despite being unbeaten in five games, United’s season hangs in the balance as they prepare to face Aston Villa. Ten Hag admitted: “It is more easy to integrate young talent into a successful team.” For many years, United have not been in that (successful) position, so we are building a team that can offer a foundation for young players to come in. “We need to have a foundation so that we can add quality players to the squad to take the team to the next level.”
The conditions to bring in Kobbie Mainoo were not so good that we definitely knew beforehand that it would be a success. I had the confidence because I saw him performing and progressing in spring and summer. I didn’t have any doubts. “But there are many things he has to do on his own because when there are a lot of routines in the team it is much easier for him to come in.”
Ten Hag concluded: “I also have to protect the player because first he has to get used to the Premier League intensity and then he has to get used to doing it every third day. You can’t train that. It’s impossible. You can’t train it in the under-21s.
You can only train this in the Premier League and the Champions League when you play every third day.”