Manchester United's unsung hero has been overshadowed by club chaos

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Manchester United’s 1-0 victory over West Ham on Saturday felt like a huge moment in the club’s season.

United supporters knew that this was a crucial game in the race for a Champions League place and Ralf Rangnick will be hoping Marcus Rashford’s late goal can act as a springboard for both the player and his side.

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One of the most pleasing aspects of United’s performance was the amount of control they had in the game. Rangnick’s men enjoyed 57% possession against the Hammers, the second-highest since the German’s appointment.

Another bonus for United was the performance of the backline. A fourth clean sheet under Rangnick represents a marked improvement when you consider the number of goals United were conceding in the final stages of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure.

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Two players who’ve been praised for United’s defensive solidity in recent weeks are Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire.

Lindelof played in United’s 3-1 victory over Brentford on Wednesday night and was lauded for his fine display. His absence from the side on Saturday meant Maguire was reintroduced to the starting XI and he too performed impeccably, winning 100% of his tackles, five aerial duels, completing six long passes and four clearances (via @StatmanDave )

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A lot has been made about Maguire’s poor performances this season and that’s just added to the chaos at United. Because of this, some players haven’t been getting the praise they deserve and Raphael Varane definitely falls into that bracket.

Manchester United's unsung hero has been overshadowed by club chaos
© (Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images) Raphael Varane of Manchester United celebrates after the Premier League match between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford on January 22, 2022 in Manchester, England.

Signed for £43m in the summer, Varane has quietly gone about shoring up United’s defence.

The Frenchman was hindered by injuries in the first few months of the season but has since been producing the kind of performances every United fan hoped he would when the club announced his arrival.

What’s also clear is that he’s making other defenders look better. There’s no doubt that Lindelof and Maguire have looked a lot more solid in recent weeks and a lot of credit has to go to Varane. His pace means he can cover for his centre-back partner and so either Lindelof or Maguire can step forward and attempt to dictate play a bit more than if they were forced to sit deep.

As per SofaScore, Varane made one clearance, one tackle, three blocks, won two ground duels, three aerial duels, played two accurate long balls and had a pass completion rate of 84% against West Ham.

Varane’s presence is enough to make the United side look much more comfortable and he should be given a lot of praise for the improvements made by Maguire and Lindelof.

Should Varane get more praise than he’s had? Follow our United On My Mind writer Omar Garrick on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts on the matter in the comments section below.

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