Erik ten Hag did not hold back when giving his verdict after seeing his side suffer a 6-3 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday.
The Dutchman described United’s performance as “unacceptable” and said the team and individual players could expect criticism at Carrington in the days to come, after seeing his side throw their four-match winning run to an end.
Hatricks from Erling Haaland and Phil Foden condemned United to their third Premier League defeat of the season though Ten Hag can take solace in the fact that his side put in a strong second-half performance.
The Dutchman is never one to defend his players after a poor outing and made no mistake in taking a swipe at their mentality, after the defeat.
Speaking after the game, he expressed his disappointment in his side’s performance, saying:
“I am very disappointed, especially at the lack of belief. I didn’t expect it. In the [previous] games, yes some weeks ago, our team was confident, there was a good spirit, there was a good vibe and today we didn’t bring it on the pitch from the first minute at all. The vibe hasn’t gone [definitively] but today they didn’t bring the belief on the pitch. It is possible to play and we didn’t. On the ball we gave easy balls away. We made many wrong decisions and out of possession, we didn’t go on the front foot. I always expect my team [to go on the front foot] but today, they didn’t do that.”
“It’s always difficult to find out, especially straight after the game. I have to talk to my players, I have to find out. They know they [can do] better – see the performances against Arsenal and Liverpool – but if you don’t fight, like we didn’t, then you have a problem against a team like Man City. When you don’t concentrate against a team like Man City you get hammered, that’s what happened.”
A major talking point in the game came from the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo was an unused substitute in the game. However, Ten Hag said it was out of respect for the Portuguese.
“It was out of respect for his big career,” the Dutchman added when asked why Ronaldo did not feature.
Manchester United will now be looking to return to winning ways when they take on Cyprus outfit Omonia in the Europa League on Thursday before a crunch Premier League fixture against Everton at the weekend.
It is back to the drawing board for Ten Hag but the signs were somewhat positive, despite the defeat to City.