Erik ten Hag reviews Brighton
Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag has laid down the gauntlet to his struggling side to show a vast improvement against Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday. The Red Devils were soundly beaten 3-1 by Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton at Old Trafford and some of Ten Hag’s decisions prompted boos from the crowd, but the Dutchman is confident that he can keep them on track despite mounting pressure.
United’s home defeat means Ten Hag’s side have lost three of their opening five league games this season, with just six points to show for their mediocre start to the new campaign. It represents their worst points total at this stage since 2014, when they had five points from five under Louis van Gaal.
Now Ten Hag faces a stern test against Thomas Tuchel’s Bayern Munich in their Champions League group stage opener, with Harry Kane in fine form after bagging four goals in as many games since his £100million transfer. And the 53-year-old has made it clear in no uncertain terms what he expects from his players to rise to the occasion at the Allianz Arena.
“Bayern Munich, I think, is one of the favourites to win the Champions League, so we have to be good there,” Ten Hag told reporters, as quoted by The Mirror.
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“But I think I have already explained what we need there. We need character, belief, resilience, determination – absolutely.”
Several issues have darkened the cloud hanging over Old Trafford at the moment, with Ten Hag’s public feud with Jadon Sancho showing no signs of a positive conclusion, while £85m signing Antony is currently away from the squad. And it appeared United are struggling to find inspiration during a tough time.
Ten Hag has also had his ability questioned after a notable decline in performances, while the free-flowing football from last season is nowhere to be seen. But the former Ajax boss, who won the Carabao Cup in first season in charge, insists he understands that he is never far away from scrutiny at United.
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Asked if he felt under pressure, Ten Hag said: “The pressure is always there. It was last year and this year is no different. Of course, at United, you have to win your games. We have to improve and I can’t be distracted.
“We have to improve. Individuals have to step up. Sometimes you are in bad periods and you have to face that.”
United have only won one of their last six away ties in the Champions League. And given their recent dismal record on the road, it could prove to be another stiff test as Ten Hag returns to the club where he worked as a budding coach eight years ago.
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