Manchester United endured a significant scare in their Champions League match against Copenhagen on Tuesday but managed to salvage their campaign with a thrilling 1-0 victory at Old Trafford.
The home team got off to another lackluster start, and much of the blame fell on manager Erik ten Hag for his questionable team selection, which was especially surprising given the must-win nature of the game.
Ten Hag’s choice was to err on the side of caution, deploying Sofyan Amrabat as the holding midfielder, with Bruno Fernandes in the No. 8 role. This approach left United struggling to assert control in the midfield, with a noticeable absence of someone who could dictate the game’s pace and deliver those crucial line-breaking passes.
In a match at Old Trafford where the opposing team sits deep, allowing United to have possession, there couldn’t have been a better opportunity to utilize Christian Eriksen, who remains the club’s finest passer. Just as in a previous game against Brentford earlier in the season, Ten Hag turned to the 31-year-old during half-time, and it was Eriksen’s introduction that transformed the course of the game.
The winning goal, scored by Harry Maguire, came from a pinpoint Eriksen cross, serving as a timely reminder of the Danish international’s undeniable talent. Despite only playing one half of football on Tuesday, Eriksen claimed the Man of the Match award and made a compelling case for his inclusion in the crucial Manchester derby on the upcoming weekend.
While it’s true that Eriksen may no longer be capable of completing a full 90 minutes and could face difficulties against formidable teams, particularly in away games, Old Trafford is the ideal stage for Ten Hag to utilize the Dane much more frequently.
Eriksen’s contributions this season have yielded one goal and two assists, despite starting in just four games so far. When questioned about the manager’s reluctance to field him, Eriksen responded, “Ask the manager why I’m starting on the bench; that’s beyond my control. But, of course, I want to play as much as possible. Clearly, the manager is looking elsewhere, but when you win like this, it’s all worth it.”
During the international break, Danish broadcasters posed a similar question to Eriksen, and at that time, he had already expressed his dissatisfaction with the limited playing time he was receiving.
Eriksen undoubtedly possesses the ability to dictate the game’s tempo, and his exquisite passing skills are precisely what Manchester United currently lacks in midfield. If United pairs him with a solid defensive midfielder, Eriksen should become Ten Hag’s go-to player, especially in home matches.