Erik ten Hag has admitted that his Manchester United side were utterly outplayed by Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon in the Premier League, and that the result of the game was reflective of the effort his team showed.
United travelled to Villa Park on Sunday with the hopes of continuing their impressive form which had seen them pick up a couple of important wins in the past few weeks. However, their hosts, who themselves needed a big win for inspiration, had different plans for the afternoon.
After a game where United played catch-up, the scoreboard read 3 – 1 in favour of Aston Villa, who were being coached by Unai Emery for the first time since agreeing to leave his role at Villarreal in LaLiga in late October for another stint in the Premier League.
United had a couple of chances of their own but were stalled by brilliant defending and the sharpness of Emiliano Martinez in goal. The pressure led to an own goal from Villa at 2 – 0 and the possibility of a comeback. But as it turns out, United did not do enough to earn a point and ten Hag has stated this at fact to journalists in his post-match interview.
“We lost the game at the start of the first half, start of the second half,” the Dutch manager said. “That’s not acceptable. You have to be ready for the game, we were not. We have to be more sharp. I said it was up to us. It was up to us. We didn’t keep the ball.
“We let them run at the start of the game, we didn’t get the right organisation but especially we didn’t follow the rules in defending and we lost battles. It’s not acceptable. A player has to take responsibility to be ready. It looked like they were fresher and that’s never acceptable.”
The former Ajax manager also bemoaned his team’s reliance on crosses in the game. Manchester United midfielders and fullbacks seemed to be of one mind in the game as they kept sending in crosses towards Cristiano Ronaldo, who was starting his fourth straight game after his big incident back in their win over Tottenham Hotspur.
“No, I think it was stupid to do that [often look for Ronaldo in the air],” ten Hag said. “We delivered too many quick crosses in from too far away. There was too much forcing and we didn’t have to. We have to find the crosses in the right moments.
“The right moment was when Christian Eriksen did so in the first half, and the moment was when he found Cristiano in the pocket at the far post. That was the right moment.”