Maguire in form as United manager Ten Hag urges team to 'show initiative'

Maguire in form as United manager Ten Hag urges team to ‘show initiative’

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire is expected to be available to face Melbourne Victory after missing their 4-0 win against Liverpool, manager Erik ten Hag said on Thursday while urging his side to show initiative.

The England defender was a conspicuous absence in the Red Devils’ first game of the pre-season tour in Bangkok on Tuesday, watching from the sidelines after a knock in training.

In his place, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Alex Telles all got time in central defence.

But Ten Hag, who took over in May after completing a successful spell at Ajax, said Maguire would need to play at least 45 minutes in front of a bumper crowd expected at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

“He’s available tomorrow,” said Ten Hag, whose side will also face Crystal Palace and Aston Villa in Australia. “We’ll see (how long). I think he can play half a game.”

United head into Friday’s game with no new injury concerns reported.

While victory over Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool got the Dutchman off to a winning start, Ten Hag faces a huge challenge to rebuild the Old Trafford club, which have not won a trophy since 2017.

Whether Cristiano Ronaldo will be part of those plans remains to be seen.

The Portuguese superstar has skipped the trip to Australia, disappointing fans with reports he wants to leave following United’s failure to qualify for the Champions League.

Ten Hag this week insisted he was “not for sale” and said on Thursday “nothing has changed”.

Feyenoord full-back Tyrell Malacia is his only signing so far, although United have been heavily linked with former Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen, Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong and Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez.

Ten Hag had no news from them, but pointed to a generation of youngsters, like Ethan Laird, Hannibal and Alejandro Garnacho, “with huge potential”.

“Now it’s about tapping into the potential,” he said, with the three no doubt eager for an opportunity on Friday.

– Initiate –

Despite Ronaldo’s absence, United showed encouraging signs in Thailand, with a positive clinical finish.

Ten Hag said that was how he wanted his team to play.

“Of all areas of the team, I want productivity. That’s the most important thing, that the players take the initiative on and off the ball, in attack and in defence,” he said. declared.

“We want to push, play proactive football, that must be the intention.

(Melbourne Victory) are a different opposition (from Liverpool) so we need a different approach,” he added. “I think they are playing at a good level so we are looking forward to this game. . It will be a good test.”

His side could come face to face with former Portugal and United winger Nani, who signed for Victory this week in one of the A-League’s biggest moves in years.

The 35-year-old, who spent eight years at Old Trafford, could make his debut against his former club.

“I would love to, I don’t know,” he said. “I just arrived in the country, and it’s a long flight, so there’s a lot to do.”

pm/arb/i