Eric ten Haag insists there is no problem with his relationship with Raphael Varane and says the Frenchman’s lack of playing time is down to Harry Maguire’s good form.
Varane was first choice in the center of defense last season but has been named on the bench in three of Manchester United’s last four games, including the 3-0 derby defeat to Manchester City.
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But when asked if there was a problem with the former France international, Ten Haag said: “Absolutely not. As I said, why I chose this partnership is about strategic reasons. I think Harry [Maguire] and Johnny [Evans] well
“Harry didn’t play much last year, so I was very happy with Rafa’s performance. I’m always happy with his performance. But at the moment Harry is playing very well and there is internal competition.”
Evans will miss the Premier League match against Luton Town at Old Trafford through injury, leaving Ten Hague to choose between Varane, Maguire and Victor Lindelof.
Varane and Maguire played together for the majority of Wednesday’s 4-3 defeat by FC Copenhagen after replacing Evans but Ten Haag hinted they were not the best partner at the back.
“There are moments in certain games where they can play together and they have already proved they can do that,” said the United manager.
“But when one of them is playing from the left centre-back position the buildup is not as fluid as I think Licha. [Lisandro Martínez]Obviously, Luke Shaw, obviously, Jonny Evans and Victor Lindelof, they’re right-footed, but they can play really comfortably with their left and make right angles, so you can create a good formation where you can start the game.”
United recorded more Premier League clean sheets than any other team last season but have struggled defensively since the start of the new campaign.
Ten Hague’s side have conceded 30 goals in 17 matches and 10 in their last four matches. The Dutchman says a long injury list has not helped but admits his available players should perform better.
“Every time you have to swap your back four, it’s tough,” Ten Haag said.
“We had a new keeper come in and whenever you form a new back four and they know the rules and principles, but the routines are not the same.
“Communication is very important, but it’s all split-second decisions. You need that cooperation and you need it 100% because when it doesn’t work, you recognize the goals at this level.
“So far, I think we’ve almost never played the starting XI that I wanted. But that’s never an excuse. We want to win games and we have good players in the squad and they can all work.”