Manchester United have had a rather mixed start to the season under new manager Erik ten Hag. The Dutchman took charge of the club following a successful stint at Ajax.
A total of six new players were signed before the transfer window closed as United spent upwards of £200 million, breaking their spending records from prior seasons. The biggest names to move to Old Trafford were Antony, Casemiro, and Lisandro Martinez.
Others such as Christian Eriksen and Tyrell Malacia have also added good depth to the squad. As for Ten Hag, he has overseen seven competitive games for United, with six of them coming in the Premier League with the other being their opening Europa League game.
United started the season with consecutive losses against Brighton & Hove Albion and Brentford but bounced back with four consecutive victories, including impressive results against Liverpool, Leicester City and Arsenal. They suffered an odd defeat against Real Sociedad in Europe to break their winning streak.
There has been a clear distinction in Manchester United’s style of play under Ten Hag. Players are pressing more, the passing is more fluid and there looks to be a sense of fight in all the players. While most names have been impressive, there have been a few that have shone brighter than the rest and below, we will take a look at five of them.
#5 Tyrell Malacia
The Dutch left-back was among the first few arrivals this season as United looked to shuffle the position after disappointing outings last season from Luke Shaw and Alex Telles. Malacia’s arrival saw Telles head out on loan to Sevilla and the former has been thrust right into the mix.
So far, the defender has grabbed the opportunity with both hands. While Malacia hasn’t racked up too much in the final third, his fiery presence at the back has drawn plaudits. Malacia is likely have more games to his name and it will be a huge chance for him to make the spot his own.
#4 Lisandro Martinez
Doubts were cast over Martinez’s move from Ajax as the defender is on the shorter side (in terms of height) compared to the central defender names we have seen in the Premier League. His first two outings added fuel to the fire, but credit has to go to Ten Hag for persisting with his former Ajax deputy.
Since pairing up with Raphael Varane at the back for the last four league games, the Argentine has let in only two goals, one each against Liverpool and Arsenal. He managed to pick up two clean sheets against Southampton and Leicester with his no-nonsense, aggressive style of tackling and challenges.
Martinez being left-footed has also allowed United to build passes from the back. He did end up a bit unlucky against Sociedad when the referee pointed to the spot off a handball where the defender could do very little to avoid the ball.
Overall, he seems to be worth the money for Manchester United.
#3 Diogo Dalot
It’s hard to believe that Diogo Dalot is in his fifth season at United. The Portuguese right-back has found it difficult over the last few seasons to get a look in but Ten Hag seems to trust his abilities and it is showing in the performances on the pitch.
The youngster has managed to keep Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the bench so far and looks to have improved key areas of his game, both in defense and attack. United fans can be regularly seen cheering for Dalot to drive up the right flank or put in those last ditch challenges to keep opposition wingers at bay.
#2 Christian Eriksen
Despite being a rather low-profile signing for the club, Eriksen has made his mark at Old Trafford. Signed as a free agent after his short stay at Brentford, it seems like Manchester United have played a masterstroke with the Danish midfielder.
Eriksen has been given the start in all six league games, often orchestrating play from the deep and putting in dangerous balls for the forwards ahead. His industrious nature has also helped Bruno Fernandes play his more natural game closer to goal.
#1 Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford had a season to forget in the 2021-22 campaign. The forward endured one of the leanest patches of his career at United as goals and assists dried up and the Englishman often looked clueless in the final third.
However, under Ten Hag, he has enjoyed quite the rennaisance. Asked to lead the attack in the absence of Anthony Martial and preferred ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, the forward looks back to his ruthless best. He has registered three goals and two assists in the league so far. His goals have been important for Manchester United as they have secured two vital wins against rivals Liverpool and Arsenal.