Meulensteen claims Varane and Casemiro 'can't handle the pace' anymore

Rene Meulensteen claims Raphael Varane and Casemiro ‘can’t handle the pace’ of the Premier League, as the former Man United coach insists Erik ten Hag must take responsibility for his team’s ‘shortcomings’

  • Man United have lost six matches already this season under Erik ten Hag
  • Rene Meulensteen is concerned by the form of Raphael Varane and Casemiro
  • Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off!’

Former Manchester United first team coach Rene Meulensteen believes Raphael Varane and Casemiro no longer possess the physical capabilities to thrive in the Premier League.

The Red Devils have endured a difficult start to the season, losing six of their 11 games across all competitions to ramp up the pressure on Erik ten Hag.

Several players have looked short of the form that saw United win the Carabao Cup and finish third in the Premier League last term. 

Meulensteen, who coached under Sir Alex Ferguson between 2007 and 2013, has picked out Varane and Casemiro as two players that are struggling badly, and he is not convinced either will be able to turn things around due to the physical demands of England’s top flight.

‘United have certain shortcomings. [Varane] cannot handle the pace,’ Meulensteen told ESPN. 

Former Man United assistant coach Rene Meulensteen (pictured) has raised major concerns about Raphael Varane and Casemiro

He believes Varane cannot handle the pace of the Premier League, with the Frenchman consistently struggling with injuries

Casemiro (right) has been far less effective this season, and Meulensteen feels he has dropped off physically as well

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‘The Premier League is dynamic. Everything goes at 100 kilometres per hour. That is the big problem in midfield. They have no energy and that is how the defence gets into trouble.

‘He [Ten Hag] wants to put a lot of pressure on, with a lot of intensity. Just like at Ajax. But he doesn’t have the players for that. The players don’t have the mentality to constantly put pressure on.

‘Casemiro, for example, can’t handle it at all. Ten Hag has a certain conviction about how he wants to play. But he has to find ways to get there.’

Varane missed United’s dramatic 2-1 comeback win against Brentford on Saturday through injury and has encountered several fitness setbacks since arriving from Real Madrid in 2021.

Casemiro impressed in his maiden campaign at Old Trafford last season, but has been off the pace in 2023-24.

He was hauled off in the second half on the weekend, with Ten Hag later explaining he made the change as he ‘wanted more football’ from his team.

The move worked, with Scott McTominay coming off the bench to score twice in stoppage time, rescuing victory from the jaws of defeat.

Casemiro may now be at risk of losing his place in the starting XI after the international break, and is another Ten Hag signing that has failed to shine consistently alongside the likes of Antony, Andre Onana and Mason Mount.

Meulensteen feels Ten Hag has the squad he wants and must take responsibility for his team falling short

Much of the blame for United falling behind their rivals in recent years has been placed on the owners, the Glazer family.

However, Meulensteen feels Ten Hag now has the squad he wants after two summers of big spending, and has called for his fellow Dutchman to take responsibility for his side’s troubles.

‘He has brought in all the players and cannot say that he has not been supported. He has indicated that he is happy with this,’ Meulensteen continued.

‘He gets a lot of credit from the fans. I understand that. But these are not players who were brought in by the Glazers and are now on the field. The responsibility of the players who are now on the field is really up to Erik.’


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