BREAKING: Manchester United fixture postponements are giving them a Casemiro problem vs Man City
Man Utd have had two Premier League games called off and it’s not helping Casemiro adapt to life at Old Trafford.
Casemiro has had a slow start to life at Manchester United
If Erik ten Hag is concerned about Manchester United taking their Europa League assignment in Moldova too lightly, then he could do worse than give the floor to Casemiro.
United are travelling to Chisinau on Wednesday for a group fixture against a team playing their games in the capital city, due to their base of Transnistria – a breakaway region not recognised internationally – being on the Ukrainian border.
It’s an arduous trip for a team accustomed to the glamour of the Champions League, but United have to win in the Zimbru Stadium, after losing to Real Sociedad last week, while Sheriff Tiraspol started their campaign with an impressive three points in Cyprus.
That should already act as a warning to United, but Casemiro is well versed in the dangers of a team who have won seven successive domestic titles. Sheriff reached the Champions League group stages last season and claimed the most famous result in their history, a 2-1 success against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu.
Casemiro played 66 minutes of that game and 84 minutes in the return fixture, which Real won 3-0. The season finished with the Brazilian winning his fifth Champions League, but that group stage result was a humiliating night in Madrid.
Sheriff are clearly a dangerous outfit and for the third time in just over a year, the 30-year-old defensive midfielder will line up against them, having swapped Europe’s top tier for a campaign in the Europa League with United.
Casemiro won’t expect to be gracing that competition for long and after signing for an initial £60million three-and-a-half weeks ago, he probably expected to be a regular already. So far, the 63-cap Brazil international has had to settle for three cameos off the bench in the Premier League, with Scott McTominay raising his game in the defensive midfield role.
The Europa League fixture against Real Sociedad last week was Casemiro’s first start, but he didn’t produce a performance that would have made Ten Hag think twice about his Premier League selection. He looked sluggish at times and his radar was off.
Ten Hag has already spoken of Casemiro needing some time to adapt, both to the Premier League and to United, although that hasn’t stopped the Dutchman from throwing Antony straight into his team after a couple of training sessions.
That period of adaptation has been halted by United’s fixture postponements following the death of Queen Elizabeth II last Thursday.
Casemiro almost certainly hadn’t done enough to start at Crystal Palace on Sunday, if the game had gone ahead, but he might have expected more minutes off the bench. Instead, the entire Premier League schedule was postponed last weekend.
The league resumes this weekend, but United’s fixture at home to Leeds United on Sunday is one of two matches that has been called off due to a stretch on police resources, with Liverpool’s trip to Chelsea also postponed. It means United’s next Premier League game will be the derby at the Etihad on Sunday, October 2.
That might have been a fixture that Ten Hag had circled for Casemiro, the kind of game where his excellence in defensive midfield will be badly needed. But if he is still not considered up to the pace of the Premier League he could pose a significant risk against the speed and industry of City’s attacking players.
He is one of three United players included in the Brazil squad for the international break and while the friendlies against Ghana and Tunisia are being played in France, reducing the travel burden, it is less time for Casemiro to spend on the training pitches at Carrington.
Another start against Sheriff is unlikely to get him up to speed for his first Manchester derby, even if he can warn his teammates about just how dangerous the Moldovans are. By the time the City fixture rolls around it will be 28 days since United last played in the Premier League..TAP.TO.CONTINUE.READING
The absence of games isn’t helping Casemiro’s assimilation period. Proving himself in the Zimbru Stadium is unlikely to be enough to be ready to face down Kevin De Bruyne and co at the Etihad.