Former Manchester United player, Gordon Strachan, has gone into detail on why he feels that his old side have returned to form in 2024.
The Red Devils suffered a horrendous December, where they lost an incredible five times in all competitions but they have seemingly turned a corner by winning five and drawing one of their six games in the new year to date.
Speaking to lordping.co.uk, the former Coventry manager highlighted the return of Casemiro as a big reason for their upturn in form.
Elaborating on the point he claimed, “Casemiro makes a massive difference to Manchester United. I know people have said that he hasn’t been at his best this season; he’s slow, but he’s one of those players that when you’re a manager standing in the dugout watching the match, you think to yourself ‘thank goodness he’s here’. Casemiro is a big player for United”.
The 67 year old also believes that a more “back-to-basics” approach to football has been instrumental in United’s recent victories.
Strachan argued that most people probably felt that Erik ten Hag would play a more Ajax style of football but “the Premier League is a different kettle of fish. It’s been harder for his players to play in a fluid style that is similar to what we’ve seen from the likes of Tottenham this season”.
Referencing the recent win against Villa, the Scot argued “the delivery for McTominay that Dalot whipped in was like a David Beckham cross. The first goal came from Harry Maguire winning a header at a corner and Hojlund picking up the second ball. It’s a back-to-basics kind of style and height and power has won them the game”.
Delving into the influence of Maguire and McTominay further, the 67 year stated that Ten Hag definitely wouldn’t have seen either in his first eleven at the start of the season but that they have certainly pushed their way back into contention now.
The former United midfielder asserted that their extra physicality has also helped United get over the line in certain matches.
“They don’t do anything that is particularly flashy or skilful, but they do win games of football. As the season has gone on, ten Hag has realised that he needs players like Maguire and McTominay in his team. Sometimes you need some height and strength in your team to win games of football, unless you’re on fire of course”.
Nobody would accuse United of being that this season, as they sit sixth in the table and only left fighting for the FA Cup.
The Scot also had some significant praise for Maguire and claimed that he “has been the butt of so many jokes and all of the problems at Manchester United over the last couple of years. The way that he has handled that is a great example for any professional footballer. He rolled up his sleeves and got on with it. It’s great to see him come through this period. I’m delighted for him, I really am”.
The final player that he singled out was that of Rasmus Hojlund. The former manager spoke of the amazing transformation that the player has undergone since the start of the season and claimed how important confidence is to a player.
“When you’re lacking in confidence, it can feel like you’re running in concrete boots and then suddenly you score a goal and you’re back”.
The Edinburgh-born former player believes that United have a lot of work to do to qualify for the Champions League in spite of their recent return to form.
“Manchester United have still got a big job on their hands to qualify for the Champions League. They have momentum at the moment but they’re competing against some very good teams”.
“If you were to compare them to Liverpool, Arsenal, City or Spurs, then I think they are still some way behind them because those teams have the ability to conjure up some magic in games”.
United will aim to continue their recent winning streak on Sunday evening in yet another crucial match against Luton Town.