MARCEL SABITZER believes THREE players hold the key to rescuing Erik ten Hag and says their absences are behind Manchester United’s poor start.
Borussia Dortmund’s Austrian midfielder, who joined from Bayern Munich last summer, is preparing to face Newcastle tonight in the Champions League.
He spent the second half of last term on loan at United and helped them to a top four finish and to lift the Carabao Cup.
Despite some impressive displays during his brief stint there, Ten Hag deemed that his performances were not enough to seal a permanent transfer to Old Trafford.
While the 29-year-old is concentrating on helping his new club Dortmund, he has still been watching from afar the struggles of his old team-mates in the Premier League.
United were dumped out of the Carabao Cup by Newcastle last week, their Champions League hopes still hang by a thread ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Copenhagen, and they sit eighth, six points of fourth-placed Arsenal, in the top-flight.
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That poor start has led to a number of United’s players being called into question while pressure has been mounting on boss Ten Hag.
Sabitzer has now given his opinion on the woeful displays of his former side but, despite being snubbed by the Dutchman, he refused to stick the knife into their boss.
And he believes that once he gets a trio of his main men back performing on a regular basis the tide will turn.
Sabitzer told The Athletic: “I feel very positive about my time there and still talk to a couple of people.
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“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.”
Brazilian midfielder Casemiro is currently sidelined through injury, while Argentina defender Martinez has been restricted to just six appearances due to a foot issue.
Meanwhile, left-back Shaw has not played since the second game of the season due to a muscle problem.
Sabitzer added: “Erik ten Hag comes up with 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.
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“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.”
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