Erik ten Hag has showered Casemiro with praise for his role in helping Manchester United clean up their ‘mess’.
The Dutchman was appointed as the Red Devils’ new manager at the end of a troubling 2021/22 season, with many anticipating it would take him a while to solve the club’s various issues.
United appeared to be stuck in reverse when they were well beaten by Brighton and Brentford in Ten Hag’s opening two Premier League games.
“There was a lack of discipline and I don’t have to lie about it,” Ten Hag said of the state he found United in.
“Top players like structure, not only on the pitch, so you need some rules.
“I think it’s obvious in every organisation that when there are no rules or no discipline in taking the rules seriously, then you create a mess.
“That’s not only [the case] at a football club, but also in any industry. It was quite obvious because I could see on the pitch what was going on.”
Ten Hag has since garnered a reputation as a strict disciplinarian, making the bold call to drop Cristiano Ronaldo earlier in the season, while even Marcus Rashford was removed from the starting lineup for a game after turning up late to a team meeting.
But one of their biggest success stories this season has been summer signing Casemiro, who has raised standards on and off the pitch since arriving from Real Madrid.
“Casemiro is such a leader and so important for us,” Ten Hag added.
“Not only with his performances and skills, like scoring goals with his headers, or linking up, or intercepting balls, but also his organisation, his mentality, the culture he projects. We are so happy that we signed him.
“When you go to recruitment in the summer, it was not only about signing players. We were looking for players with character, with personality. A lot of players in the world have great skills from a technical approach, or they can run really fast, but we were looking for players who have character, who have personality, who have leadership, who take responsibility, who are resilient. That is the type of player I was looking for after I analysed the squad.
“Casemiro has not surprised me – absolutely not. I knew what a magnificent player he was. Just look at his profile, all the cups he’s won, that’s not a coincidence. Like Rapha Varane, he has won five Champions Leagues, that’s not a coincidence.
“For me it’s always the same, you have players who win, and who win always, and players who lose and are always losing.
“You have to do your research and find the type who will win and who are cooperative and humble in the dressing room but when on the pitch they take responsibility.”