Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has used four full-backs this season, making good use of all of them.

Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia have split time at left-back, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka has stepped up on the right with Diogo Dalot out injured, and done so well that there is debate over who is the best option.

Malacia has proven particularly versatile, featuring occasionally at right-back, but it is his ability to shift inside and join the midfield which has especially pleased Erik ten Hag.

Speaking after the 2-0 win over Leeds, Ten Hag reserved special praise for Malacia.

READ: Confirmed Manchester United transfers in, out, loan deals for January 2023

Leeds United v Manchester United - Premier League
Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Ten Hag praise for Malacia

Erik ten Hag was quoted by Manchester United’s website praising Malacia’s effectiveness. He said he believes the Dutch talent is his best full-back when it comes to switching inside.

He said: “I want to play my full-back inside. In my perspective, the best at that is Tyrell Malacia and I think he did well in the first half.

“I think, in possession, he was maybe one of the only players who played in a good level in the first 60 minutes but, because we make such mistakes, I chose to change there and made the subs who worked out very well.

“Ty [played] in the midfield and then [played] on the outside: he was really good with the ball, stopping Summerville, except in one moment, but for the rest, I think he played a really good game.”

Ten Hag’s substitution saw Malacia taken off and Lisandro Martinez brought on, with Luke Shaw moving out to left-back, where he ended up providing the assist for Marcus Rashford’s opening goal.

The tactic of moving the full-backs inwards to join the midfield was one used frequently by Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich, where Ten Hag worked as assistant under the current City boss.

Malacia has done well at this, which essentially gives the team an extra midfielder when in possession, providing extra passing options while allowing others to get forward centrally.

United have even tried this with Aaron Wan-Bissaka too, a player not renowned for his on-ball quality, but Ten Hag wants to help all his players improve, and become more versatile.

While Luke Shaw may be more productive than Malacia in the final third, the Dutch talent has other traits which work well in certain situations, and Ten Hag is a big fan.

United signed Malacia for just £13 million in the summer from Feyenoord, and the money has appeared well spent so far.

Already this season the defender has made 25 appearances for United, 21 as a starter, including in big home wins against Liverpool and Manchester City.

Related Topics

Have something to tell us about this article?
Let us know