Erik ten Hag has hit out at his Manchester United players for failing to run and compete in last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.
The Red Devils had chances to score in the first half and were level at half-time, only to fall apart and lose to goals from Pape Sarr and an own goal from Lisandro Martinez.
It was a familiar tale for United on the road, with their shocking end of season away form almost undermining their push for Champions League qualification last season.
And speaking to the media ahead of United’s home game with Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford, Ten Hag made his feelings perfectly clear over where the players went wrong at Spurs.
“They didn’t run,” the Dutchman said. “They run in the wrong moments, too late – especially the front. They didn’t recover. It happened, you can’t turn it around. It’s a demand here if you want to win games.
“For the first 35 minutes, we were so good in the game. We dominated totally. We should’ve scored minimum once, I think twice. They were nowhere, nothing. And then things happened in the game and they got distracted, not doing your jobs anymore. I’m not used to it from this team because they always do it. It’s what the fans can expect and what we demand.
“Those games over the full course, we didn’t match the standards. We beat Wolves, the first 35 minutes very good at Spurs. But the demand at United is you do it for 90 minutes every game no matter what.”
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Ten Hag also shouldered the responsibility for United’s performance, admitting he’s equally to blame, but reinforced his belief that the players ultimately have the quality to pick up wins.
“Oh yeah (they accepted the criticism). We are in the same boat. I’m responsible for it, me as well. We have to do it with togetherness and to face the first two games [that] weren’t good enough,” he added.
“If we do the right things, we have a very good team. If everyone is doing their job we’ll win games.”
The other standout topic from Ten Hag’s media duties was answering how long Luke Shaw may be out injured for. The 28-year-old has picked up a muscle injury that is expected to sideline him for a number of weeks, plunging United into defensive disarray as alternative left-back Tyrell Malacia is also out.
Speaking on whether or not United will look to make a signing, he said: “It can be (that United sign a left-back). I think we always have to anticipate on situations. If there are opportunities then yes, but it has to be the right player otherwise we have to deal with the current squad.”
LISTEN NOW TO 90MIN’S MAN UTD PODCAST: THE PROMISED LAND
On this edition of The Promised Land, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders and Rob Blanchette discuss the impact of Luke Shaw and Mason Mount’s injuries and whether Erik ten Hag shoud look to the club’s youth players for support.
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