Manchester United suffered the indignity of losing 7-0 to Liverpool at the weekend, thus ruining their hopes of completing a Premier League double over them for the first time since the 2015/16 campaign.
The result marked a step backwards from the recent excellent form they have shown, winning the Carabao Cup while beating Barcelona in the Europa League, and Erik ten Hag will surely be back to the drawing board.
There wasn’t a single United player who received pass marks from their Anfield horror show and the performance was even more of a surprise considering just how well-drilled the Dutchman had got them since Christmas.
A tie against Real Betis at Old Trafford in the Europa League is next up tomorrow, and there are several players who need to be dropped, with Raphael Varane being one of them.
Will Raphael Varane start against Real Betis?
The Frenchman has been at United since the summer of 2021 and his ability and experience have given the club a major boost at the heart of their defence.
Indeed, prior to the clash at Anfield, a combination of Varane, Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro had yet to concede from open play when they were all on the pitch together.
Varane has particularly impressed in spells, making 3.8 clearances and 1.1 tackles per game while winning 63% of his total duels, yet the weekend defeat exposed him.
The 6 foot 3 “leader” – as so dubbed by journalist Buchi Laba recently – has averaged a rating of just 6.46/10 via Sofascore for his previous five Premier League matches, with the humiliation against Liverpool the icing on the cake.
Against the Reds, the 29-year-old was given a rating of 5.5/10 via Sofascore, ranking him as the worst United outfield player.
He did win 100% of his duels, but overall his performance was largely “ineffective” according to journalist Laurie Whitwell as he struggled massively to contain the Liverpool front three of Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah.
Indeed, he made just one tackle and two clearances all match along with completing just 75% of his attempted passes and only 38 touches, proving to be a forgettable afternoon not just for Varane but for the whole United side.
Ten Hag will likely make changes ahead of the Betis tie and with a crucial league clash against Southampton less than 72 hours later, Varane must be dropped to the bench.
Can the Red Devils bounce back? Only time will tell.