Man Utd boss Ten Hag nullifies key Man City tactic in FA Cup final but it's not enough to stop rivals winning trophy | The Sun

Man Utd boss Ten Hag nullifies key Man City tactic in FA Cup final but it's not enough to stop rivals winning trophy | The Sun

June 3, 2023

PEP GUARDIOLA sprung another one of his surprises after the World Cup by handing John Stones a new hybrid role in this brilliant Manchester City team.

Premier League clubs, along with the likes of Real Madrid in the Champions League, have subsequently struggled to deal with Stones when he switches from central defence to midfield once City have the ball.

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag had a clear gameplan to nullify Stones and it worked well.

Every time the England centre-back moved forward and City were in possession, ten Hag instructed Jadon Sancho to effectively act as a man marker.

As a result, although he still delivered another polished performance defensively, Stones was not quite as effective as he has been this season because he had so little room to operate in.

Sancho started out wide left but as soon as United lost the ball – which was quite a lot – he moved inside and ensured he was always within a couple of yards of fellow countryman Stones.

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Ten hag then decided to have a switcharound just after the hour with City in control at 2-1 and looking likely to get a third.

Christian Eriksen was taken off for Alejandro Garnacho who moved out to the left with Sancho moving over to the right.

It was a bit of a gamble by the United manager as this should have allowed Stones to get forward more than he had been able to during the rest of the match.

There was one occasion when he was caught out badly. Marcus Rashford won possession and fed Garnacho, but Stones still had the pace to race back and pluck the ball off the teenager’s feet before building another City attack.

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Sancho chases Stones down in the box
Stones had Sancho's attention throughout the 90 minutes


Yet the introduction of Garnacho by ten Hag gave United an extra edge.

Inevitably, Stones spent more time as part of the back four but his defending remained at a high level and he delivered one outstanding block to deny Garnacho.

Unsurprisingly, as he was ineffective wide right even without having the responsibility to track Stones, Sancho was replaced by Wout Weghorst.

Scott McTominay also replaced defender Victor Lindelof in a final throw of the dice but despite hitting the bar through Raphael Varane in injury-time, they never seriously threatened to break down City’s defence.

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