Marcel Sabitzer reckons Manchester United’s struggles this season have been, in large part, down to the absence of the squad’s three leaders.
The Austrian international spent the second half of last campaign on loan at Old Trafford as Erik ten Hag’s side won the Carabao Cup and qualified for the Champions League.
Unfortunately for the former RB Leipzig midfielder, his on-field performances did not merit a permanent move, instead he found himself at Borussia Dortmund via parent club Bayern Munich.
United have gone on to suffer an incredibly slow start to the new campaign that has seen their Dutch manager come under huge pressure and several of last season’s top performers called into question.
Sabitzer gave his opinion on the recent woes but was keen to talk up the former Ajax manager currently at the helm of the club.
Marcel Sabitzer said that he feels sorry for Manchester United’s players who have suffered a disappointing start to the season
Man United have been without several of their key players for much of the new campaign
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Veteran Casemiro played just 45 minutes on his return from injury when he picked up a hamstring problem that will keep out out of action for several weeks
‘I feel very positive about my time there and still talk to a couple of people,’ he told The Athletic. ‘You ask yourself, ‘what’s going on?’ There’s a lot of noise, results are not good, they’ve had defeats at home, which almost felt unthinkable last season.
‘And there’s still the unresolved situation of the ownership. You can see what that does to a team.
‘I feel sorry for them because they’re all good guys, and extremely hungry for success. Casemiro, Luke Shaw and Lisandro Martinez – they are leaders that provide structure and stability to the team.
‘Erik ten Hag comes with up very specific match plans and patterns of play. But if you have too many important players missing and too many changes as a result, things get lost between the tactics board and the pitch. The rhythm of players coming isn’t right, processes aren’t right.
‘In the Premier League and Champions League, you need your best players available. Everything feels a little laboured and uncertain now. They need their big guys to show up and change the course of the season, but I believe things can change quickly once they get important players back.’
Just as United were starting to get their key players back from injury the Brazilian Casemiro suffered another issue that is set to keep him out for several weeks.
Martinez has played just six matches this term due to a foot injury which he has been nursing since United’s 4-3 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich in September.
While Shaw has been out with a muscle problem since the second game of the campaign against Tottenham.
The midfielder played a part in the United squad that claimed the Carabao and finished in the top four last season
The 29-year-old heaped praise on Erik ten Hag and his man-management skills
Ten Hag and his side got a crucial win at the weekend thanks to Bruno Fernandes’ last-minute winner against Fulham. Victory saw the side climb into the top of the table and eased the mounting pressure on their boss.
Sabitzer heaped yet more praise for the Dutchman, hailing his man-management abilities, which have been questioned amid recent tiffs with Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford.
He added: ‘You can wake him up at 3am, he’d tell you his whole match plan by heart. He’s very knowledgeable about football and tactics, a very hard worker, a perfectionist.
‘And he’s very straight with you. When I had a bad game, he showed me some situations and told me how to do it better next time. I liked that. You knew where you stood with him. He never threw you under the bus. Instead, he told players to go out and do better in the next game.
‘I learned a lot about football working under him. He’s a very good coach.#’
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