Erik ten Hag remains optimistic about Manchester United’s progress despite a disappointing derby defeat.
Manchester United’s dismal performance in the recent derby against Manchester City has left Erik Ten Hag acknowledging that their rivals are still “on the up”. Erling Haaland scored twice, one from the penalty spot, and Phil Foden added another goal, leading City to a dominant 3-0 victory at Old Trafford. This result highlights the significant gap of nine points between the two sides after 10 games, shattering any hopes that United had turned a corner following their previous three wins.
Despite the disappointment, Manager Ten Hag attempted to remain positive amidst the club’s disheartened fans. He expressed, “We had won the three games prior, and the team’s spirit is quite good. Our determination to fight is commendable.” Ten Hag believes that United is gradually moving in the right direction, stating, “The initial stage was challenging, but we are now progressing.”
Regarding the match itself, Ten Hag felt that United presented a competitive performance in the first half, only trailing 1-0 after Haaland’s penalty in the 26th minute. He remarked, “During the first half, it was a close battle. However, the penalty changed the course of the game.” Ten Hag acknowledged that the team had opportunities to equalize, such as Scott McTominay’s shot just before halftime.
Nevertheless, Ten Hag admitted that the second half was anything but close. He confessed, “We were losing, and I made the decision to increase our offensive power, which ultimately deviated from our game plan.” When questioned about the penalty decision, Ten Hag resolutely refused to comment. The penalty was awarded following a VAR review after Rasmus Hojlund fouled Rodri.
On the other hand, Pep Guardiola, Manchester City’s manager, suggested that their victory was not as straightforward as it appeared. Guardiola praised United’s abilities and expressed, “We hold great respect for United and their accomplishments. Nonetheless, we performed at our peak, especially during the second half.” Guardiola highlighted the significance of their second goal, which occurred during a period when United was expected to become more aggressive.
Looking back, Guardiola admitted that he did not anticipate City’s complete dominance over their local rivals when he joined the club in 2016. He reflected, “I am aware of what we have achieved. As for United, I am unfamiliar with their progress because I was not present. However, I did not expect this level of authority when I arrived here, considering the top-class players and the squad that United possessed at the time.”