Varane on Man Utd capt. switch: Ten Hag ‘not scared’ of big calls

NEW JERSEY — Raphael Varane has said Erik ten Hag has shown he is “not scared” to make big decisions as Manchester United manager after choosing to appoint Bruno Fernandes as captain in place of Harry Maguire.

Maguire has been club captain since arriving at Old Trafford from Leicester City in 2019 but, after losing his place as a first-team regular last season, Ten Hag decided to hand the armband to Fernandes.

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It is the latest big decision Ten Hag has refused to shy away from since taking over as manager after dropping both Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford for disciplinary reasons last season.

Varane said making the decision to change his captain shows the Dutchman is prepared to lead from the front.

“He wants a team with character and he’s the leader so he has to show it himself,” Varane told ESPN in an exclusive interview in New Jersey.

“He’s not scared to take these decisions and take that responsibility. That is what we expect from the manager. He did it so I think, with things like this, you show by example.

“He knows exactly what he wants. He’s shown that determination and from the first day we’ve known exactly what we’ve had to do and where he wants to go. It’s all clear for the players and for the team and we have a good connection with the manager.”

Ten Hag has worked hard to change the dynamic of the dressing room since becoming United manager, signing players like Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez as much for their influence off the pitch as their ability on it.

He now has a core of leaders in Fernandes, Varane, Casemiro and Martinez, something Varane said cannot be underestimated.

“We need players with character and personality,” Varane said.

“If you want to win big trophies you need that kind of character. The difference between a good team and a top team is sometimes something mental.

“We need to believe, we need determination and the character of the players is something important.”

United enjoyed a successful first season under Ten Hag after winning the Carabao Cup and securing a return to the Champions League.

He has looked to boost his squad with the arrivals for Mason Mount and Andre Onana and Varane believes the team are getting closer to mounting a challenge to reigning champions Manchester City.

“We want to fight for every trophy,” Varane added.

“That’s the expectation for this club. We want to grow as a team, be more consistent and fight to be at the top. That’s what we want.

“We are improving the team, the squad, and that’s good for the challenge that we have in front of us.

“I feel more confident in this dressing room. In a good way, not arrogance, but confident to trust our qualities and to believe that we can achieve something.”

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