Erik ten Hag faced criticism for deviating from Manchester United’s tradition of fielding young talents by opting for Sofyan Amrabat at left-back.
United currently face a shortage of left-back options due to injuries to Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia, along with Sergio Reguilon’s battle with illness. Consequently, Ten Hag decided to deploy Amrabat in this unfamiliar role during the match against Crystal Palace, marking the Moroccan international’s first start for the club.
Former managers, including Tim Sherwood, raised questions about this decision, highlighting the club’s historical practice of promoting academy players under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson. Sherwood commented on Sky Sports’ Soccer Special, saying, “Where are the kids? Over the years, Man Utd would dip into their academy in a game like this.”
He continued, “You can make changes if you bring kids in. Bring the kid in who plays with the characteristics the manager plays with. At the moment, I don’t see those kids coming through. Amrabat would rather play in his correct position. He’s a signing they’ve been chasing all summer, so when he plays, he wants to be playing in his correct position, at No 6, not at full-back.”
Sherwood’s comments sparked a debate as Amrabat delivered an impressive performance at left-back. Furthermore, 19-year-old midfielder Dan Gore made his debut appearance, upholding United’s tradition of nurturing young talent.
Amrabat shared his thoughts after the match, stating, “Since I was a child, I worked hard for this, I worked very hard for this my whole career, my whole life. It’s amazing to play here. I told the manager I will play wherever the team needs me, even if it’s a goalkeeper. I will play wherever the team needs me.”