Erik ten Hag Talks About The struggle of Manchester United’s Forgotten Defender Tyrell Malacia

Erik ten Hag Talks About The struggle of Manchester United’s Forgotten Defender Tyrell Malacia

In a season marked by defensive woes, Manchester United’s head coach Erik ten Hag has shed light on the challenges faced by 24-year-old defender Tyrell Malacia.

The Dutch international has been notably absent from the pitch, not having trained once throughout the season due to a persistent knee meniscus injury.

This situation has exacerbated Manchester United’s defensive struggles, leading to unconventional solutions and highlighting the team’s vulnerability in key positions.

Injury and Absence

Tyrell Malacia’s last appearance on the field was during an international duty match for the Netherlands against Croatia in the UEFA Nations League semi-final last June.

Since then, the £13 million defender has been sidelined, a situation ten Hag recently elaborated on in an interview with Dutch outlet Voetbal International.

“Tyrell Malacia didn’t play a single minute of football this season. In fact, he didn’t even spend a single moment out on the training pitch.

We signed him as our back-up for Luke Shaw,” ten Hag explained, emphasizing the impact of Malacia’s absence on the team’s defensive lineup.

The Surgery Saga

The root of Malacia’s prolonged absence lies in his decision to undergo surgery for his knee injury.

Despite discomfort during pre-season training, Malacia chose to have the procedure done by his own preferred surgeon in the Netherlands, rather than the one recommended by Manchester United in London.

This decision, while initially supported by the club, led to complications.

Post-operative scans in the autumn revealed that small fragments of cartilage remained around his meniscus, necessitating a second surgery in November, this time under the supervision of United representatives.

Rehabilitation and Setbacks

Malacia’s decision to undergo a second surgery meant restarting his rehabilitation process from scratch.

Manchester United announced in December that he had suffered a setback but assured fans that he would return to action early in the new year.

However, Malacia’s road to recovery has been longer than anticipated, leaving the team to cope without him for an extended period.

Impact on the Team

The absence of Malacia, combined with injuries to other key defenders, has left Manchester United’s defense in a precarious position.

Both Malacia and first-choice left-back Luke Shaw have missed significant portions of the season, forcing the team to field emergency replacements.

This shortage was so severe that Casemiro, primarily a midfielder, had to step in as a center-back in recent weeks.

Luke Shaw’s Plight

Erik ten Hag has been vocal about the challenges facing Luke Shaw, whom he regards as “the best left back in the world.”

Despite his high praise, ten Hag has also acknowledged Shaw’s limitations due to past injuries. “Luke Shaw is the best left back in the world.

This guy is so good.

But he has suffered a horrible injury at the start of his career and because of this he will NEVER be able to play 60 games per season,” ten Hag stated, highlighting the long-term impact of Shaw’s injuries on his career and availability.


As Manchester United navigates a season fraught with defensive challenges, the prolonged absence of Tyrell Malacia underscores the fragility of their squad depth.

The series of decisions regarding Malacia’s surgery and rehabilitation has not only kept him off the pitch but also compounded the team’s struggles in maintaining a solid defensive line.

While the club continues to adapt and seek solutions, the hope remains that Malacia will eventually return to full fitness and contribute to the team’s success.

Until then, Manchester United must manage their defensive resources carefully to navigate the remaining fixtures of the season.