Manchester United coach Erik ten Hag said he does not save his best players for Premier League matches, insisting the team he puts out in the Europa League is not chosen just to give squad members a chance to prove themselves.
Five of veteran forward Cristiano Ronaldo’s seven starts for United in all competitions this season have been in the Europa League, while teenager Alejandro Garnacho was handed his full debut for the club in Thursday’s 3-0 win over Sheriff Tiraspol.
Ronaldo was among the goalscorers as United reached the knockout stages of Europe’s second tier club competition.
“Yeah, I know that some see it like this, but I don’t have a Europe team and I don’t have a Premier League team,” Ten Hag told reporters ahead of his side’s clash with West Ham United in the Premier League.
“I look to the opponent (and see) what we need against that opponent, and now I have to focus on West Ham United for Sunday and then we will pick the team to start but also to have plan B or plan C, in the pocket to win that game
“And that is what we need, finally, to win games, and we not only need 11 players, we need the whole squad.”
Ronaldo was brought back into the squad for the Sheriff match having being excluded from the trip to Chelsea last weekend after the Portuguese was disciplined by Ten Hag for refusing to come on as a substitute in the previous match against Tottenham Hotspur.
Ronaldo has now scored three goals this season in all competitions and the United boss backed the 37-year-old to keep firing.
“It’s up to him,” Ten Hag added. “But I think when you collect all the chances he creates – the team creates for him in the last weeks – he was there.
“He is still capable to get into the right positions and I know he’s capable to finish them, so it’s possible.”
The Dutchman also added French forward Anthony Martial is still not fit to return from injury for Sunday’s encounter, but hopes to have him back before the World Cup begins next month.
Meanwhile, West Ham manager David Moyes has showered heaps of praise on West Ham striker Gianluca Scamacca saying he has got an “awful lot of traits.”
The Hammers boss, however, refused to compare him with former attacker Marko Arnautovic.
Scamacca joined in the summer transfer window from Sassuolo and he has netted six goals in all competitions so far this season.
“Gianluca is interesting because he’s a really good lad, a really nice lad. He’s got some great traits – lots of really good hold up play, stature, can score with his head, got good feet, close control. He’s got a cannon in his right foot, so he’s got an awful lot of traits that make you go ‘wow’, said Moyes.
“He’s got a lot of things which I think he could do better. I think he needs to get in the box quicker. Sometimes he’s laboured outside, but I think that’s partly because he’s nearly hoping he gets it outside because he’s got a boom of a right foot.
“His movement is good, there’s bits that I think he can look at which we’re going to show him and we think we can help him, but he’s a really good character. I keep saying this, to find really good young centre forwards nowadays is really hard.”
Scamacca last scored in the 3-1 win against Fulham and he will be looking to get his name on the scoresheet again when the Hammers face Manchester United League on Sunday.