Erik ten Hag’s two decisions have put him in a difficult position as he faces possible dismissal from Manchester United.

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Man Utd have missed energy in midfield this season. (Image: Getty) Manchester United have faced an array of problems that have plagued Erik ten Hag’s dire second season in charge, few more noticeable than the shortcomings in midfield. Ten Hag has tabled criticism for his tactical setup and how it leaves his midfield and defence over-exposed to attacks, but the issues could be self-imposed for a different reason.

Ten Hag arrived at Old Trafford with a focus on transforming United’s midfield into a dominant unit capable of dictating football matches as his Ajax teams did. United agreed an £85million deal with Barcelona but the player said no. Casemiro later arrived from Real Madrid in a £70m move. An exciting addition, sure, but questions were rightfully raised over his contrasting style to De Jong and Ten Hag’s Ajax profiles.

The Brazil captain silenced his doubters with an impressive first season in England as Ten Hag guided United to Carabao Cup glory and Champions League qualification through a third-place finish. But his form has fallen off a cliff this term, and it’s contributed to a startling regression that has left his manager on the brink of becoming the fifth manager to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson unsuccessfully. Our community members are treated to special offers, promotions, and adverts from us and our partners. You can check out at any time.

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Kobbie Mainoo’s sensational breakthrough has been a silver lining. The 18-year-old looks like a player United and England can build around for the next decade. However, Mainoo has been left to fuel the engine room by himself on too many occasions. The Red Devils desperately lack energy in midfield, which is no surprise given the personnel.

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In the same window, Ten Hag sanctioned a cut-price deal that saw Fred leave for Fenerbahce, while he opted against making Marcel Sabitzer’s loan from Bayern Munich permanent. Both of those decisions have proven to be mistakes, with Casemiro looking past his best and Amrabat struggling to adapt to the speed of Premier League football.

Are there better technical players out there? There sure is. However, Fred, in particular, offered a level of energy that could always make United’s midfield competitive, especially in big games. Sabitzer failed to impress during his loan spell in M16, but he didn’t get much of a chance, and it was clear he would’ve been a useful squad option.

Ten Hag will always struggle to implement his style with Casemiro and Amrabat as two of his leading midfield options, which makes his decision to target both all the more confusing. If he is given the chance to manage United for a third year, both players will likely not be involved. Casemiro is the subject of interest from Saudi Arabia, while Amrabat’s loan won’t become permanent. Ten Hag must solve his problem by replacing them with the correct profiles – physical athletes who are comfortable with the ball.

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