Erik ten Hag made smart Carrington change before Manchester United win vs Chelsea – Steven Railston

Although there were signs of improvement against Everton and Galatasaray, last weekend&aposs performance against Newcastle was indefensible and Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial needed to be dropped.

Ten Hag subsequently did the right thing and benched both players. Rashford&aposs lack of work rate had been heavily criticised during the Newcastle inquest and it would have been wrong to start him against Chelsea.

There were also tweaks in defence and midfield, with Diogo Dalot replacing Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Sofyan Amrabat coming in for Kobbie Mainoo, which meant there were four changes to the starting team.

Those changes had the desired effect. United came flying out of the blocks against Chelsea and they started with impressive intensity, although making a positive start hasn&apost tended to be a problem this season.

United made excellent starts against FC Copenhagen and Galatasaray away from home and didn&apost win either game due to the lack of good game management, control and dreadful defensive record letting them down.

Bruno Fernandes&apos saved penalty ultimately didn&apost halt the momentum against Chelsea and United were good value for their 1-0 lead when Scott McTominay, currently in the goalscoring form of his life, found the net.

In truth, the game was always bound to produce chances at both ends and Chelsea were likely to score, but United were superior and they deserved the victory, which was the perfect response to a poor result.

McTominay, once an unlikely matchwinner, had been the biggest attacking threat and he was serenaded by supporters in the Stretford End as he conducted a post-match interview with Prime Video.

The reporter asked McTominay what was behind the change in mentality and his response was fascinating. “The manager, to be honest with you, in the way that we approached the game,” he said.

“There have been a lot of light training sessions to keep the energy, to keep fresh and to obviously go to the next game, as obviously they come really thick and fast.”

United reached the finals of the Carabao Cup and FA Cup last season and they exited the Europa League at the quarter-final stage, along with the usual Premier League schedule and a winter World Cup mid-campaign.

The demand on the players was unprecedented and Bruno Fernandes played more minutes than any other player in Europe&aposs top five leagues, which makes his record of not picking up injuries even more impressive.

However, the fixture list has finally taken a toll this season and United have contended with an injury crisis, although they haven&apost been the only club in the Premier League to suffer the same problem.

The hectic fixture schedule has contributed to the league&aposs injury crisis, but there have been numerous muscle injuries picked up by United players and training at Carrington has been scrutinised.

There has been a suggestion some players feel that Ten Hag&aposs training has overworked the squad, with a few believed to have complained of beginning the campaign feeling as tired as when they finished the previous one.

The number of muscle injuries sustained suggests such claims have substance and it was interesting to hear McTominay reveal training had been tweaked to &aposlighter sessions to keep the energy&apos ahead of playing Chelsea.

Ten Hag wants his side to efficiently press the opposition and play with intensity, which means managing the players&apos load is key and there have been times this season when the squad has looked short of legs.