Erik ten Hag has a ‘Casemiro problem’. Man Utd cannot afford to rest the Brazilian, who was famously in and out of a trophy-hoarding Real Madrid side.
It feels like the last thing Man Utd have currently is ‘a Casemiro problem’ but the Manchester Evening News know best and they seem a little worried.
That does not stop Daniel Murphy from suggesting Man Utd are ‘becoming a juggernaut once more. Unstoppable,’ as they sit third in the Premier League table and 11 points behind the current leaders, having been stopped in a score draw with 17th-placed Leeds seven games ago.
But there is concern that ‘that’s increasingly only the case when Casemiro is on the pitch’. And Man Utd are indeed far better when their best player is playing.
The Brazilian is ‘almost too important’ and that is ‘becoming a problem’ because ‘Ten Hag can’t rest Casemiro as much as he’d like in fear of a slip-up which will only increase the possibility of injury and fatigue as he gets older’.
READ MORE: Neville says Casemiro ‘not a smart signing’ despite ‘devastating’ impact at Man Utd
The solution? ‘United need another world-class midfielder to help the one they already have’. And that is fair. They do need more investment across the entire squad, not least in midfield.
But this idea that Casemiro’s brilliance is an issue because Ten Hag simply cannot properly rest the knackered 31-year-old is ever so slightly flawed. The Brazilian has played at least 40 games a season in seven of the last eight full campaigns, the exception being the 35 matches he managed in a positively barren 2015/16. He ranks fifth for minutes played at Man Utd this season; he was fifth, second, first, sixth and second for Real Madrid in the last five seasons.
Casemiro won 18 trophies with Real Madrid as a regular starter across numerous competitions, while barely ever missing consecutive games. A lack of rest has never been a particular ‘problem’ for him and Scott McTominay being a bit rubbish won’t change that.
The only ‘Casemiro problem’ that currently exists is the desperation to frame his each and every action as an example of some sort of master genius at work. He is a phenomenal enough player to not have to force such proof.
But the Daily Mirror website have targets to meet and so ‘Arsenal sent title warning as Casemiro’s private Man Utd message deciphered’.
The ‘title warning’ is simple enough. Casemiro has helped raise the standards at Man Utd to such an extent that Arsenal and Manchester City cannot fully disregard Ten Hag’s side as challengers. Fair enough.
But what exactly was this ‘private Man Utd message’ that Casemiro sent, which has subsequently been ‘deciphered’?
Take it away, Gary Neville:
“Casemiro went and told him… he pointed at the spot, I don’t know if anyone remembers it, there was about 10 or 15 minutes to go. He said ‘put it there and I’m going to head it’ – Bruno put it there and he actually went and headed it!”
He told a teammate to aim a cross at him. And they did. And Casemiro headed it straight at the keeper. And Alan Turing Gary Neville has cracked it.
Just days and confused
Quite why the Daily Mirror website then have to double down and produce this story…
‘Casemiro’s incredible impact at Man Utd summed up by Bruno Fernandes instruction’
…is unknown. It is fairly common for one player to tell another to aim for them at a set-piece.
Perhaps Mediawatch is missing the point. After all, ‘Casemiro was spotted barking instructions at Bruno Fernandes’ against West Ham, ‘despite tasting success just days earlier’.
You mean a five-time Champions League winner hasn’t had his thirst for glory quenched by the Carabao Cup?
The Daily Mail exclusive about the bonuses Man Utd players will be in line to earn if they win the quadruple has predictably spawned numerous duplicates from news aggregators.
And while £485,000 is obviously a ludicrous amount of money in ordinary circumstances, that one-off payment to each player for adding the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup to the Carabao Cup would be roughly equivalent to two weeks’ wages for some of that squad. So the Daily Mirror website describing it as ‘eye-watering’ seems a bit exaggerated.
‘Jamie Carragher’s three Arsenal “joke” signings – and how one has proved him wrong’ – Daily Mirror website.
Not sure Willian has really proved Jamie Carragher wrong by being dreadful at Arsenal but subsequently excellent at Fulham.
You can ring my Bell
‘And this is the crucial bit. Bellamy and other former pros of his ilk know how hard a life in football can be. If their experiences don’t bring them empathy with the current generation, then nothing will.
‘On occasion, Bellamy straddled the line precariously. A youth coach at Cardiff, he was accused of bullying by one player. He was never charged and many of those players have gone on to begin solid professional careers.
‘Nevertheless, he left the club and then the country. He found a role with Kompany in Belgium at Anderlecht and so his influence on the professional game began’ – Ian Ladyman, Daily Mail.
A few notes:
1) Cardiff completed an internal investigation which named no specific individuals but did ‘highlight a number of significant concerns relating to an unacceptable coaching environment over the relevant period of time’ – namely when Bellamy was an academy coach.
2) Bellamy, who stepped down from his role “to cooperate fully with the club’s inquiry” while “categorically refuting” the allegations, later apologised if he had “inadvertently offended anyone,” admitting: “I have probably relied too much on my own life experiences playing under some of the best coaches in the world rather than assessing the sensitivities of a new generation of players.”
3) With those two points in mind, is it really possible to write with a straight face that ‘many of those players’ at Cardiff ‘have gone on to begin solid professional careers’, and that Bellamy has ’empathy with the current generation’?