Erik ten Hag could end £37m signing's career at Manchester United with tough decision

Amad hasn't kicked on since his Liverpool goal. -Credit:2024 Manchester United FC
Amad hasn't kicked on since his Liverpool goal. -Credit:2024 Manchester United FC

Manchester United welcome Sheffield United to Old Trafford in the Premier League on Wednesday night.

United scraped a win against Coventry City in the semi-finals of the FA Cup last weekend, collapsing late in the second half and conceding three goals against the Championship club in a 3-3 draw. Fortunately, United prevailed on penalties to progress to the final but the performance cranked up the pressure on Erik ten Hag and many believe it represented the point of no return for the Dutchman.

Ten Hag came out fighting in his pre-match press conference on Tuesday and United must deliver an improved showing up against the Premier League's worst side.

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Here are five things to look out for against Sheffield United at Old Trafford...

Amad deserves a chance

Amad came on for Marcus Rashford after Coventry equalised at Wembley last weekend and many fans would like to see him replace the 26-year-old in the starting side. Rashford limped through the mixed zone as he left the stadium on Sunday evening and he's a major doubt for Sheffield United, so it's highly likely either Amad, Antony or Omari Forson will take his place from the first whistle on Wednesday night.

All three of those players made appearances from the bench against Coventry and Forson's cameo went under the radar, but Amad should be given the nod to start. If Rashford is absent, Garnacho should stay in his natural position and Amad seems the best option to play on the right given his bright displays when he's been handed a chance.

Amad could leave this summer. -Credit:Mike Hewitt/Getty Images.
Amad could leave this summer. -Credit:Mike Hewitt/Getty Images.

It was hoped Amad's winning goal in the 4-3 victory against Liverpool in the FA Cup quarter-finals would be the turning point for his time at Old Trafford, but he's continued to be a peripheral figure and is surely considering his future away from the club.

Starting Amad against Sheffield United would feel like a significant show of faith and would send a message to the youngster that he can still make it at Old Trafford. Nobody knows where Amad's ceiling is and it will only be discovered by giving him meaningful opportunities. It might be a case of now or never for Amad - signed for a fee of up to £37million - and it would be a shame to see him leave this summer without making a single start across all competitions this term.

The siege mentality

Ten Hag was in combative form during his pre-match press conference. "No. Absolutely not," he said when asked whether the media response to the Coventry display had been fair.

"You made enough and one the question: 'is it embarrassing?' No, the reaction from you was embarrassing. It is the comments. Top football is about results, we made it to a final and we deserved it not only by this game but also the other games.

"We lost control for 20 minutes, we also had bad luck, 3-2, 3-3. We were very lucky in the end, clear. Penalties was very good and we made it to the final.

"It is a huge achievement. Twice, in two years is magnificent. For me as a manager, four cup finals in four years. The comments are a disgrace."

The Dutchman came out swinging and the dressing room must adopt a siege mentality to secure the best possible results from now until the end of the season. United have been so poor and perhaps a 'us against the world' outlook will give them a much-needed spark.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag
Ten Hag thought media coverage was a 'disgrace'. -Credit:Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

Wan-Bissaka's position

Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been challenged when playing at left-back. He started in that role for the first time in the 2-2 draw against Tottenham in January and although he performed well, he's looked uncomfortable over the last few matches and it's time to abandon the experiment.

Brentford targeted Wan-Bissaka at left-back at the Gtech Community Stadium, he conceded a late penalty against Liverpool at Old Trafford and gave away another on Sunday.

There was a huge element of misfortune in the penalty Wan-Bissaka conceded against Coventry, but his performances have screamed he must be relocated to right-back.

Diogo Dalot is a versatile player and is competent at left-back. He should start on that side against Sheffield United and that will give Wan-Bissaka a chance to regain confidence.

Another unwanted record?

United's only victory in their past seven Premier League games was at home to Everton in March - they have drawn and lost three - and they must get back to winnings ways.

Most have lost hope that qualifying for the Champions League is possible, but failing to win against Sheffield United would be as good as mathematically confirming it won't happen.

Not claiming a victory against the Blades would also represent United going five league matches without a win for the first time since 2019, which would be another unwanted record.

United have conceded 74 goals in all competitions this season, their most in any campaign for 45 years, and the unwanted records have been stacking up.

Can Casemiro's legs hold out?

Casemiro played 120 minutes of football on Sunday evening and it will be interesting to see how he fares just a few days after that game against Sheffield United.

"His legs are gone," are the four words no professional footballer wants to hear in their career and the Brazilian has noticeably slowed in a season in which his regression has been stark.

To his credit, Casemiro played out of position at centre-back against Coventry, which isn't ideal, and it looks likely that he'll have to play as an auxiliary defender again.

The 32-year-old's commitment can't be questioned, but he now looks like a player in the winter of his career and it will be a surprise if he can play the full 90 minutes.