Ten Hag lined up against Wolves with more or less the team he had been picking in pre-season, but once the game kicked-off, Luke Shaw was inverting from left-back and joining Casemiro in holding midfield. The idea was to give the team the ‘box midfield’ that has became fashionable among Premier League sides since Pep Guardiola began using it last season.
The experiment did not go well, though, as Lisandro Martinez struggled as a left-sided centre-back in what had become a back three, while Alejandro Garnacho had no support behind him on the left wing. The shape was abandoned at half-time, with Shaw moving back into left-back, leaving Casemiro badly isolated in holding midfield.Too often Casemiro was the one under pressure. As Gary Neville put it on Sky Sports: “Casemiro got absolutely torn to shreds tonight. Manchester United’s midfield were non-existent and they were absolutely ripped apart… It emptied. That would have been a real worry for Erik ten Hag.”