Casemiro admits Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag’s obsession with winning has taken him by surprise and is on a level he has ‘only seen with very few managers’.
The midfielder, a five-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid, joined United in the summer from the Spanish side in a move that is expected to reach £70million.
Casemiro played under Zinedine Zidane and Carlo Ancelotti at the Bernabeu – two managers who have won seven Champions League titles combined – and the Brazil international says the Dutchman’s mentality is on par with the best he has worked with.
“After being in football for quite a while even though I’m only 30, his obsession with winning is what surprised me the most,” Casemiro said ahead of the League’s Group E tiebreak. Europa Thursday at Real Sociedad.
“I think he has a lot of strengths, we all know it’s a process and we’re growing together.
What is at stake in Real Sociedad vs Man Utd?
- Man Utd travel to Real Sociedad needing to win by more than two goals to finish top of Europa League Group E.
- Top of the group would give Man Utd a goodbye to the last 16
- If they don’t, Ten Hag’s side will have to play one of the eight teams that finished third in their Champions League group.
- A bye would mean no more European football to fear until March 9.
“We want to win and [Ten Hag] is obsessed with learning and improving ourselves down to the last millimeter. This obsession with winning is something I’ve seen in very few managers.”
Ten Hag: Casemiro came to Man Utd to prove himself
Eyebrows were raised when Casemiro left the reigning European champions for a struggling United Europa League side that had a disastrous start to the campaign against Brighton and Brentford.
Casemiro dismissed suggestions the move was money-driven as he bid farewell to Real before joining what he described as ‘the biggest club in the world’.
Much of the criticism has been overlooked due to Casemiro’s transformational impact on United’s midfield since joining the team, with reports in Brazil claiming he has settled into Manchester very quickly.
Ten Hag was impressed with Casemiro, who he describes as “the cement between the stones”, and explained why he never doubted his motives for making the move to United.
“In the first conversation [Casemiro] told me he needed a new challenge because at Real Madrid he won everything,” said Ten Hag.
“He played an important role at Real Madrid and they didn’t want him to go but he had the feeling ‘I have to go to another club, another league to prove myself’, and that shows his hunger.”
The Dutchman added: “From day one [Casemiro] came with that attitude in every practice, every game and I really like that. He will be more and more important for our team.
“You see it [Casemiro] is growing game by game and our team is growing so we are really happy with the progress, but we have to continue this process. We are not satisfied and we have to keep improving.”
How are Man Utd doing at EL?
Manchester United advanced to the knockout stages after beating Sheriff Tiraspol last week. They will now face Real Sociedad on Thursday for first and second place.
The Spanish side top Group E by three points with a better goal difference. However, if Man Utd win in San Sebastian, the group winner will be dictated by the head-to-head record
Sociedad won 1-0 at Old Trafford but due to their superior goal difference Man Utd would have to win by two goals to finish top of the group. Sociedad could draw or lose by a single goal and still go straight to the round of 16.
Ronaldo shows football needs to change its attitude towards substitutes
Sky Sports’ Adam Bate:
Cristiano Ronaldo’s reaction to life among the substitutes has brought the role back into the spotlight. But he did so at a time when the impact and importance of the Premier League substitute has never been clearer.
Ronaldo was dropped for Manchester United’s trip to Chelsea in October as punishment for refusing to continue as a late substitute and for leaving early in the win over Tottenham.
and, the previous month, Heung-Min Son became the first substitute to score a Premier League hat-trick for seven years. When Ronaldo himself came off the bench to score against Everton last month, the number of Premier League goals per game scored by substitutes reached its highest level in almost a decade.
This is a logical consequence of the rule which now allows a team to make five substitutions, encouraging their introduction earlier. Any coach – and indeed any player – who chooses to minimize or ignore the opportunities this presents does so at their peril.