Beaten Reading boss Paul Ince joined in the praise for Casemiro and claimed Erik ten Hag is taking Manchester United back to the big time.
Brazilian star Casemiro bagged a brilliant second half double to finally break Reading resistance and fire United into the FA Cup fifth round with a 3-1 cruise. Ince said: “He’s a Champions League winner, a great player but what he does against Reading doesn’t matter.
“As a United player it’s what you do against the big clubs and when I played that’s what we had in Roy Keane and Bryan Robson. I’ll be honest, If we’d played United a year ago I’d have fancied our chances. They’d lost their presence and a lot of clubs felt they could get something here.
“But in such a short space of time he’s lifted the whole club. He’s bridging the gap and the fans are buying in. Yes it’ll take time but they have a presence about them and that’s what they had in the Fergie years.
“The manager has got the club in the right position. I’m pleased as a Man United player that things are looking bright. We were never going to win the FA Cup but to hold United at half time then get a goal back gave us a lot of confidence and we can take that back into the Championship.”
Fred made it a samba party with an audacious back-heel for United’s third but ten Hag’s stars couldn’t keep a clean sheet with Reading substitute Amadou Mbengu heading home a 72nd minute consolation. That came after Andy Carroll had been sent off for a second yellow following a poor challenge on Casemiro.
Ten Hag was delighted with Casemiro too saying: “We know he’s a great player. In Madrid’s midfield with [Toni] Kroos and [Luka] Modric it was great.
“He is really important with all his experience but he is such a smart player and intelligent. He knows the positions, how to deal with the ball and also he is creative as well and we are really happy with him. He is important for the improvement of the team.”
Harry Maguire, back in defence added : “”He’s done what he was brought in to do. He’s a phenomenal player. You don’t win what he’s won without being a top player. He’s improved the team, the morale and the performance.”
Keane was also full of praise for Casemiro, claiming he was the kind of signing his old club has needed to make for years: “Before he came there was this perception he’s a sitting midfielder because of working with different players at Real Madrid, players who are more attack-minded,” he told ITV Sport.
“But we’re now seeing over the last few months he’s got so much quality going forward in terms of the final pass and he’s getting goals, as well as being very, very good defensively. A huge signing for Man Utd and a big personality, which Man Utd needed.”