OPINION: Erik ten Hag has found two Manchester United players who proved their worth during injury crisis

Defenders Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelof of Manchester United have each overcome specific difficulties this year.

After Manchester United’s humiliating loss to Sevilla last month, Erik ten Hag appeared to be angrier than ever. At the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium, another dishonorable performance had undoubtedly increased his blood pressure.

Ten Hag reminded his players of the standards expected of them to represent the club in the locker room, and he emphasized them again in the post-game press conference, appearing to imply that some would be sold if they didn’t live up to his expectations.

In the 15 days since that defeat in Spain, the players were asked to respond, and Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw have undoubtedly met the challenge. The manager has received individual comments from both players, who have both displayed exceptional play.

OPINION: Erik ten Hag has found two Manchester United players who proved their worth during injury crisis

Shaw has moved to center back in place of injured first-choice defenders Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane, and his recent partnership with Lindelof has been crucial in keeping a disappointing result from turning into a disappointing run of form.

They performed admirably together against Brighton, ensuring their advancement to the FA Cup final. Even though the victory over Tottenham was thrown away, they still managed to defeat a confident Aston Villa team while maintaining their composure.

Martinez and Varane may have been lost to injury for United, but the backline has performed admirably when Lindelof and Shaw have been on the field. When you consider that both of them have spent time away from the team this season, the duo is truly deserving of praise.

After the anomaly in West London, Shaw did not start for another five games. Shaw began the season against Brighton and Brentford. In two games against Manchester City and Omonia Nicosia at the beginning of October, Tyrell Malacia entered the lineup but was taken off at halftime, giving Shaw the chance to reclaim his position.

Following that poor start to the season, Shaw has improved to the point that he now appears to be a natural playing at center-back. In just six months, Shaw has gone from being usurped by Malacia to having Ten Hag’s unwavering support.

He has been outstanding in that position and held Ollie Watkins, one of the Premier League’s top strikers, at bay throughout the game on Sunday. Shaw, who “enjoys” playing the center, delivered another masterclass.

Despite the fact that Shaw’s comeback was predicted months ago, his seamless switch to center back emphasizes the caliber of work he is currently producing. Lindelof, who fell down the pecking order, has made a similar point over the past two weeks.

OPINION: Erik ten Hag has found two Manchester United players who proved their worth during injury crisis

Similar to Shaw, Lindelof has experienced personal setbacks throughout the season. Before the World Cup, the Swede was third in line for center back, but he had to watch Harry Maguire overtake him when the new year began.

Lindelof’s drop in the pecking order surprised everyone, but he has undeniably reclaimed his former partner’s place in recent weeks.

While Lindelof, who scored the game-winning penalty in the FA Cup semifinal, has excelled since returning to the lineup, Maguire overcame his subpar start against Nottingham Forest last month.

When Ten Hag first arrived, he was in possession of a crystal-clear directive for football director John Murtough: he needed to sign players with character. He wants those kinds of athletes, and Lindelof and Shaw have proven to be resilient this year.

They have each overcame their own obstacles to play a crucial role in helping the team secure a strong campaign ending.

They can be proud of their contribution at the end of the season, and they might even have another trophy.

Igbo Kennedy

Igbo Kennedy

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