Manchester United captain Harry Maguire plays up front: Erik ten Hag unleashes bizarre tactical tweak as United chase Real Sociedad

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire and Jon Pacheco of Real Sociedad compete for a header during the UEFA Europa League group E match between Real Sociedad and Manchester United at Reale Arena on November 03, 2022 in San Sebastian, Spain.
(Image credit: Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has had a tough season so far. But perhaps he could have reimagined his career in a bizarre Erik ten Hag tweak away to Real Sociedad.

United were searching for another goal to avoid the dreaded Europa League play-off against a strong third-placed Champions League team, needing a two-goal cushion to top their group. After taking the lead through Alejandro Garnacho, they looked poised to grab another.

La Real stood strong, though. Ten Hag threw the kitchen sink at it – including using his captain as an unlikely lightning rod up front. 

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag looks on prior to the UEFA Europa League match between Manchester United and FC Sheriff on 27 October, 2022 at Old Trafford, Manchester. United Kingdom

Erik ten Hag has had some funny ideas since joining United – but this might top them all (Image credit: Naomi Baker / Getty Images)

Maguire was brought on as a second half substitute and began to drift towards the left-wing. After a few minutes, he was in a forward berth. Cristiano Ronaldo has now partnered the likes of Carlos Tevez, Wayne Rooney, Karim Benzema… and Harry Maguire up front. It didn't quite work out, however. 

The England captain rose to a few long balls as a target man looking to head onto Ronaldo but United finished the game 1-0 winner – but losers in the long-run, ending up with one of those trickier ties. 

It's perhaps not the bold reinvention that ol' Slabhead would've liked. 

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Speculation over Cristiano Ronaldo's Manchester United future has intensified after he refused to come on against Tottenham in midweek, with Chelsea among the clubs linked with a January move. 

However, Erik ten Hag wants the five-time Ballon d'Or winner to see out his contract at Old TraffordIt has also emerged that Ronaldo didn't receive a single vote for this year's Ballon d'Or, as he finished outside the top three for the first time since 2005.

Meanwhile, United are reportedly prepared to fight it out with Chelsea and PSG to sign Inter Milan centre-back Milan Skriniar – and have been linked with a mega-money move for Atletico Madrid and Portugal forward Joao Felix.

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