Erik ten Hag has been shown why he should stick with his Manchester United philosophy vs Charlton – George Smith

The Magpies, currently locked on equal points with United in the Premier League table, were the victims of one of the shocks of the third-round, losing 2-1 to League One side Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. A second half double from Owls striker Josh Windass put Eddie Howe&aposs side to the sword, leaving them to reflect on an early FA Cup exit at the hands of League One opposition for the second season running.

It marked their first defeat since losing 2-1 to Liverpool on August 31 and the first time that they had conceded a single goal in all competitions since beating Southampton 4-1 on November 6. It was, though, nothing more than what they deserved, with their League One hosts producing a heroic performance to book their place in the fourth-round draw.

Magpies boss Eddie Howe, who has overseen a tremendous job so far this season to give United an unexpected competitor in the race to secure Champions League football for next term, could have no complaints. Wednesday wanted it more than his side did, leaving him to face big questions about his team selection.

Howe decided to make eight changes to the side that drew with Arsenal four days earlier, only keeping Sven Botman, Sean Longstaff and Joelinton in his starting line-up. It was a far cry from the XI we have all become so used to seeing this season.

Despite the changes, it was a side that featured plenty of experience and quality, including former United loanee Martin Dubravka, captain Jamaal Lascelles, Matt Ritchie and club-record signing Alexander Isak. Still, though, it was not enough to topple a Wednesday side who are currently riding high in League One.

After going 1-0 down, Howe turned to the cavalry on the bench, bringing on Bruno Guimaraes, Joe Willock and Miguel Almiron. Kieran Trippier also came on moments after had Wednesday doubled their lead.

But with a huge Carabao Cup quarter-final against Leicester City to come on Tuesday night, Howe obviously felt confident enough to rest his key players for what, on paper, looked like being a much sterner test. That approach, of course, came back to bite him, meaning the Magpies will be under huge pressure to get back to winning ways against the Foxes and keep their trophy hopes alive.

United manager Erik ten Hag left nothing to chance against Everton on Friday night, deploying his strongest possible line-up, with the exception of Tyrell Malacia being preferred over Lisandro Martinez. And that has been a trend that Ten Hag has set throughout his United premiership so far, regularly naming a strong and star-studded line-up for every cup fixture.

In the Europa League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup, the Dutchman is yet to name what you would describe as a &aposweakened team&apos. He has never called on just the kids or his fringe players, just as Howe did at Hillsborough, naming a back-five (including Dubravka), with the exception of Botman, that had made just 12 appearances between it all season.

The Dutchman has approached every game in such a way that deserves the utmost respect. He has never shown neglect towards any fixture and that is a rarity in modern football, particularly in the domestic cups, especially among Premier League managers.

United, along with the top priority of finishing inside the top-four this season, are desperate to end their trophy drought. As difficult as it promises to be, they are still in with a chance of winning all three cup competitions they are still alive and kicking in, which is testament to Ten Hag&aposs respect for the cups, both domestically and in Europe.

It is why he should, once again, continue with what he has been doing when United host Charlton Athletic in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday night at Old Trafford. Backed by a huge away following, the Addicks – perhaps inspired by Wednesday&aposs win over Newcastle – will believe they have a chance of causing a massive upset and ending the Reds&apos dream of moving to within two games of Wembley.

While Ten Hag has to both manage his squad&aposs workload, such is the volume of games they have had recently, and prepare for Saturday&aposs derby against Manchester City, the clash with Charlton presents United with a golden opportunity to move themselves one step closer to ending their pursuit of silverware. He will get away with making the odd change here and there, but the risk of making alternations on mass and it backfiring will leave him to face unwanted questions.

He should continue with the approach that has served United so well so far.


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