Ten Hag vows to ‘fight on’ – but ‘questions’ grow for Man Utd boss

Ten Hag vows to ‘fight on’ – but ‘questions’ grow for Man Utd boss


Erik ten Hag (l) has plenty of thinking to do

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag says the club is “in a bad place” but that he still believes he is the right man to stop the downward spiral at Old Trafford.

Newcastle’s 3-0 EFL Cup win was their biggest away success over Manchester United in 93 years. It condemned the Reds to their eighth defeat in 15 matches, their worst start to a season since 1962-63.

Coming off the back of Sunday’s Manchester derby defeat by City, it was the first time United have lost successive home games by three goals or more since October 1962. They have lost five of their first 10 home games for the first time since 1930-31.

The series of unhappy statistics were accompanied by boos at half-time and the final whistle, just as on Sunday, and bring increased speculation about whether Ten Hag is the right man for the job.

“I understand when the results are not there it is logical they are questioning that,” he said.

“But I am confident I can do it. At this moment we are in a bad place and I take responsibility for it.

“But I am a fighter. I see it as a challenge.”

First-half goals from Miguel Almiron and Lewis Hall put Newcastle in command then, after a brief rally at the start of the second-half, Joe Willock sealed the win with a well-taken third on the hour.

The home side only managed two shots on target and wasted their best chance in the first-half when Anthony Martial appeared to duck out of a header, despite being in a central position just six yards out.

“It is below the standards everyone expects from Manchester United,” said Ten Hag. “It is not good enough by far and we have to put it right.

“I take responsibility for it. It is my team and they are not performing.”

Ten Hag confirmed Brazilian midfielder Casemiro will miss the Saturday lunchtime Premier League encounter with Fulham after suffering an injury during the first-half of his return after a three-game absence.

“We have a lot of setbacks this season so far, but that is never an excuse, you have to get results in,” he said. “Obviously, Sunday and tonight were far from that.”

‘Questions about the manager’ – pundits react

Joe Willock scores
Manchester United have lost consecutive home games by three or more goals for the first time since October 1962

United have lost five of their first 10 games at home for the first time since 1930-31, having lost just once at home in the Premier League last season – winning 15 or 18.

Former Manchester United striker Andy Cole, speaking on Sky Sports, said: “People now come to Old Trafford thinking they can beat Man Utd.

“There are going to be questions about the manager, Man Utd were really poor. The players need to take a good look at themselves.

“When you see performances like this, you have to ask ‘what is going on here?’

“If he doesn’t get results in the next couple of games, fans’ attitudes towards Ten Hag can change very quickly.”

Ex-Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given claimed “it feels there is a divide between the players and the manager” and added “there appears to be a real fallout behind the scenes”.

“The players have to take responsibility but it seems at the end of a manager’s tether, there is a disconnect,” he continued.

“He has spent £411m and that is his team. Where do they go from here? Do the board and directors have a lot of thinking to do?

“I think they will be. It is not good enough for a club this size and the manager has to take the final flak.”

Ex-United captain Gary Neville was similarly unimpressed.

“Man Utd players were complaining to the ref, whinging, and while they were whinging Newcastle were attacking. It is schoolboy stuff, under-9s,” he said.

“Man Utd fans were probably expecting what they are seeing. Every team that came here this season should have got something.

“I don’t know where he starts picking a side next, as none of them can really say they deserve to play.

“We are seeing a repeat of United losing their discipline, not passion – it is petulance. It is like a bunch of kids on the schoolyard.”

Analysis – ‘There is still belief in Ten Hag’

BBC Sport’s Simon Stone

There has been no suggestion from anyone at United during an unexpectedly tortuous start to the season that backing for Ten Hag is wavering. Even the booing from the stands seems a little half-hearted.

There is a belief in Ten Hag, the progress made last season buys him some time and, less than two years after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked, there is little appetite for the kind of upheaval that followed the Norwegian’s exit.

It is also true as well that until the current ownership situation is resolved, it is hardly likely the Glazer family would get rid of their manager.

If Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s mooted 25% purchase comes to pass – and with it comes some element of control over the sporting side of the club – it would hardly make sense that the most important figure within that sporting structure was changed just before the new part-owner came in.

That said, Ten Hag knows he must turn this situation around.

What BBC Sport readers think

Tim: This United side is the absolute worst I have seen. What’s worse is some of these players are being paid extortionate amounts of money. The club is a complete mess.

Colin: Worst Utd team in the last 10 years.

Mikeal: People are going to blame the manager again for an awful display of football, but when are they going to realise that it is the players that are giving up. Manchester United have been doing it since Sir Alex Ferguson left, not one of them player would get in to a top six team!

Tim: How many times in last 10 years have I heard Man Utd fans say it is the worst side they have seen? They can’t keep getting worse, can they?

Kit: This Man Utd team look like they met for the first time this evening. Honestly what do they do in training each week?

Andrew: Ten Hag is a good manager and United are lucky to have him. Who is better that would actually want the job? Particularly as the problem is clearly in the boardroom, and that won’t be fixed for years.

Anon: Martial has survived Louis Van Gaal, Giggs, Mourinho, Ole, Michael Carrick, Ralf Ragnick and now will probs survive Ten Hag. And he is playing up top for us as a number nine. Tells you everything about football operations at the club.

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