26th November 2023 – (Manchester) Manchester United’s mounting injury list this season, coupled with a hectic schedule of upcoming fixtures, has prompted manager Erik ten Hag to voice his lamentations regarding the demanding nature of top-level football.
During the international break, Denmark’s Christian Eriksen and Rasmus Hojlund joined the list of injured players at United, which already included Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro as long-term absentees.
The record-breaking 20-time champions of the Premier League currently sit in eighth place, having accumulated 21 points from 12 matches, marking their worst start to a season since 1962.
Looking ahead, the Champions League group stage will undergo a format change starting from the 2024-25 season. The expansion will see 36 teams participating in a single-league format, as opposed to the current 32 teams. Each team will engage in a minimum of 10 games against 10 different opponents, compared to the existing six-game format.
Ten Hag expressed his thoughts on the matter, stating, “Every manager is complaining about the schedule. But still, they keep adding games to the schedule. Next year they add again two games (in the new Champions League format), and the limits are… we already achieved the limits. I think we already crossed the limits of what players can handle.”
Manchester United faces a crucial week away from their home ground, with a visit to Turkish side Galatasaray in the Champions League on Wednesday, followed by an away match against Newcastle United, currently occupying the sixth position in the Premier League, at St James’ Park on Saturday.
Ten Hag continued, “And then what we see now in the first 12 Premier League games, the physical standards are even higher in comparison to last year. You have a choice to make. Either you match it by training and preparation, or you drop off. So that is a decision that every club has to make, every team has to make, every individual has to make.”
Later on Sunday, Manchester United will face Everton at Goodison Park. Everton recently became the first Premier League club to receive a points deduction for breaching financial sustainability rules, resulting in their drop from 14th position to second-from-bottom after an independent commission imposed an immediate 10-point deduction.