How will Manchester United cope without Casemiro?

It looked like the whole of Old Trafford was holding its collective breath when referee Anthony Taylor went to check the pitchside monitor during Manchester United’s 0-0 draw with Southampton in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.

Match VAR Andre Marriner had asked Taylor to review the video to see if the yellow card he had just shown United midfielder Casemiro should be upgraded to a red card for his tackle on Southampton’s Carlos Alcaraz.

The Brazilian may have connected with the ball first and eventually won it, but the studs on his right boot had also crashed into Alcaraz’s shin.

Taylor decided that this tackle represented a serious foul and on his return to the center of the pitch overturned the yellow card and showed Casemiro a red.

The Brazilian looked distressed, covering his face with his hands and resting his head on his team-mate Antony’s shoulder before slowly making his way back into the tunnel.

His desperation has been mirrored in the stands by United fans who have come to see him as arguably their team’s most important player this season.

Casemiro has given United new presence and control this season and his performances have helped them win the Carabao Cup, in which he scored against Newcastle in the final, lift them into the top four of the table and stay in the latter stages of both the FA Cup as well as the Europa League.

It is obvious what Casemiro has brought to United and this is overwhelmingly confirmed by a quick look at the stats. United’s win rate with the Brazilian is 76%, but in the seven games he has missed that drops dramatically to just 43%.

United score roughly the same number of goals with Casemiro at 1.9 per game as without him at 1.7 per game, but the real difference is seen in the impact he has on United’s defence. With him they have conceded 0.9 goals per game, but without him it almost doubles to 1.7 goals.

But United will have to do without the Brazilian for their next four home games, against Fulham in the FA Cup and Newcastle, Bradford and Everton in the Premier League, as his red card at the weekend was his second in the season. after the one that came against Crystal Palace last month.

It represents a huge loss at a crucial stage of the season, especially as United have no obvious replacement, sparking a debate about how they will cope.

The most likely candidate to fill the void is Scott McTominay, who was brought in against Southampton immediately after Casemiro’s dismissal to bolster United’s midfield.

The Scot performed brilliantly for United, helping to stop Southampton taking advantage of their extra man and leading his side to a point.

It must not be forgotten that McTominay’s performances earlier in the season delayed Casemiro’s full Premier League debut after he signed in August.

McTominay responded to the Brazilian’s arrival by producing some of his best form and helping them to four successive Premier League wins against Liverpool, Southampton, Leicester City and Arsenal. Erik ten Hag’s manager admitted he had made it impossible to sideline him for his new £70m signing.

But McTominay is not a natural central defensive midfielder and while he can use his strength and athleticism to form a barrier in the middle of the pitch, he lacks the composure and passing ability to really excel in the role.

When Casemiro was ruled out for three games last month, Ten Hag turned to Austrian midfielder Marcel Sabitzer, who he brought in on loan from Bayern Munich at the end of the January transfer window.

Sabitzer impressed against Leeds home and away and against Leicester City at Old Trafford in February as United took seven points from a possible nine. The Austrian is more comfortable on the ball than McTominay and during matches has far more touches than her.

Sabitzer may be more of a box-to-box midfielder, but he could certainly offer United a temporary solution. However, he has missed the last two games due to injury and it is uncertain when he will be able to return.

Another alternative is 17-year-old Kobbie Mainoo, but he has only 10 minutes of Premier League experience and may represent too much of a risk.

It has become clear without Casemiro United look vulnerable and their midfield needs strengthening in the summer, but before then we hope they can get through the next four home games relatively unscathed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *