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Erik ten Hag denies Manchester United have been in crisis this season after Chelsea victory

United are three points off the top four following their 2-1 win over Chelsea

Phil Medlicott
Thursday 07 December 2023 09:33 GMT
Erik ten Hag denied the club have been in a crisis this season
Erik ten Hag denied the club have been in a crisis this season (PA Wire)

Erik ten Hag dismissed any talk of Manchester United’s season being in crisis as he stressed “we are going in the right direction” following the 2-1 win over Chelsea.

United went into the contest at Old Trafford on the back of Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Newcastle, their 10th defeat in all competitions this term.

After Bruno Fernandes saw an early penalty saved by Robert Sanchez, a Scott McTominay brace, either side of Cole Palmer’s equaliser, secured United a victory that took them up to sixth in the Premier League table, three points behind fourth-placed defending champions Manchester City.

When asked at his post-match press conference what that said to him about a season that has felt like it has been in crisis, United boss Ten Hag said: “Crisis? Not for us.

“We keep calm, look at the process where we know where we have to build. We are going in the right direction.

“We don’t get distracted (by) criticism around us, but we are very critical on ourselves. We are not quickly satisfied and happy, we always want to do better. We have to improve a lot if we want to be successful – but this team is capable of being successful.”

There had been some reports ahead of the game that Ten Hag had lost the confidence of some of his players.

That led to United banning four media outlets for Tuesday’s pre-match press conference, with the club saying the action was taken for not “contacting us first to give us the opportunity to comment, challenge or contextualise.”

We keep calm, look at the process where we know where we have to build. We are going in the right direction

Erik ten Hag

Ten Hag added: “Last week we played three games (a 3-0 win at Everton, 3-3 draw at Galatasaray and the Newcastle match). Two times we played good, and then one bad performance.

“But you see this team is in a good direction. I know sometimes you have a bad performance, but then still, you can get a result. That is the next step we have to make.

“But you see how we play, the style, so dominating the opponent, in and out of possession. That is the way I want to play. I was very pleased, it was very enjoyable how the team played.”

One of four players coming into Ten Hag’s starting line-up was Antony, who in the build up to the contest had been quoted as telling YouTube channel The United Stand that he could “see criticism (of him) coming from former club players and other people in the media, who unreasonably express their opinions”.

Ten Hag said of the Brazil winger’s performance against Chelsea, which included winning the penalty: “This is the attitude he needs, and what he has to contribute to the team. He was very bright, he got very good positions on the ball, he made also very good decisions. He is stepping up and he has to build from this.”

Ten Hag also praised midfielder McTominay – now on six United goals for the season after his 19th-minute strike and 69th-minute header – as he said: “He has the skills to arrive in the right moment, he has the smell and then he has a very good finish.”

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino, whose side remain 10th, said of a display in which the Blues, as well as scoring via Palmer late in the first half also hit the woodwork twice through Mykhailo Mudryk and substitute Armando Broja, said: “I’m disappointed because we didn’t start well.

“They started better than us, showing more energy than us. We didn’t match their energy. I think if we talk about overall, I’d say they were better than us and deserved to win.

“We created chances enough to be in the game. We should have been more clinical. But overall my feeling was they were better than us and deserved the three points.”

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