Eriksen reveals training plan that stunned Forest and gave Man United perfect restart

Erik ten Hag's team secured 3-0 win in their first game since resumption of Premier League

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Christian Eriksen looked up in the pouring Mancunian rain before angling his 19th minute corner low and away from the crowded box. The ball flew on the soaked surface while Raphael Varane, Casemiro and Anthony Martial moved to distract the Nottingham Forest defence.

As they did, Marcus Rashford moved forward into the space which had cleared to the right of the penalty spot, met the ball and swept it first time into the Forest goal to give Manchester United the lead.

It looked simple, but it wasn’t. It was also the work of the training ground move first implemented the previous day. United manager Erik ten Hag, his coaches and analysts had watched Forest’s marking at corners. They saw that the Forest players could be pushed towards the back post, freeing up space near the front post.

“We trained it yesterday,” said Eriksen in answer to a question from The National after the game. “It was planned. We saw that coming and lucky it went a lot better today than it did in training.”

United had tried it twice at Carrington, where it was not as soaked as the Old Trafford pitch.

“It wasn't as wet,” smiled the Dane who didn’t know whether it would come off since “it is always a different opposition". Eriksen credited the idea to "set-piece coach, Eric (Ramsay), I think it’s from him" and was happy that “it came off perfect".

Eriksen described the conditions - so different from the World Cup - as: "Cold, and very wet. It was good! The atmosphere was good, a perfect day to play football.”

The win kept United in fifth, a point behind Tottenham Hotspur but with a game in hand.

“It was the first Premier League game after the World Cup, so obviously to get going again it is important and now of course with a 3-0 win at home it is a good feeling and a good start,” said Eriksen.

"I think the Burnley game [in the League Cup last week] was the same, a bit of getting into it, but I think that game showed we didn't lose anything. Being away from each other and now of course our relationship with the other guys, we came back same set-up, a lot of new defenders coming in, but I think people did well, and I think we reacted very well.”

Manchester United 3-0 Nottingham Forest: Player ratings

However, the man of the match against Forest was Brazilian Casemiro.

“I think people who watch football and play football, they know he can pass,” said Eriksen. “Obviously, he has come here and really taken the league in his own way. We are happy with that. It is nice playing next to him. He gets you that extra space, if you lose the ball he will get it back, and he is very good on the ball as well."

Marcus Rashford is another in form player and he gave United the lead.

“He played very well, luckily I haven't been on the pitch where he has played a bad game yet,” opined Eriksen. “I let him continue that, he is looking sharp and confident and you can feel that when he is going forward. You feel that in the stadium and you feel that with him and it is a nice thing and I hope he keeps it going. You can see that he came back [from the World Cup] pretty confident.”

After losing two of their opening four home games this season, United are unbeaten at Old Trafford since September and the home form is nine wins, one draw and those two early defeats. United have four forthcoming home fixtures including the Manchester derby on January 14. Eriksen feels that the squad are in a positive place.

“The atmosphere is good, we have a lot of people coming back from the World Cup, the last guys are coming back and everyone is coming together,” he said. “It helps winning games and also before we went away for the World Cup we had a few good games and good wins and it makes it easier to come back and start like this.

“The start of the season is very different compared to now, the football is different now to the beginning, it was a bit hit and miss in some games but I think after that we picked up, we have been building since. You feel that in the group, you feel that the system is working which is something you have to believe in and I think we are doing that.”

Eriksen also talked about departure of Cristiano Ronaldo from Old Trafford, stating that United will move on without the Portuguese.

“First of all we are sad that Ronaldo is not part of it, his legacy and is name at any club is special, for me to be fortunate to play with him in my career was very nice,” said Eriksen. “Football goes on. You feel that the next game after, people will forget what it was like before and now our focus is really like he is not here.”

United next play at Wolves on December 31 and then Bournemouth visit Old Trafford on January 3.

Updated: December 28, 2022, 1:26 PM