Erik ten Hag and Manchester United hit back over reports manager has lost the dressing room

Both the club and the manager are defiant in the wake of news stories claiming some United players are unhappy with his methods

Richard Jolly
Senior Football Correspondent
Tuesday 05 December 2023 13:29 GMT
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Ten Hag on Manchester United's disappointing defeat to Newcastle

A defiant Erik ten Hag has insisted he is certain he still has the backing of the Manchester United players and claimed they could not have produced their recent performances without unity.

Ten Hag was confronted with reports that he has lost the support of half of his players, prompting United to ban several media outlets from their press conference on Tuesday. But the Dutchman insisted the vast majority of the United squad embrace his style of football and claimed they are heading in the right direction.

United have lost 10 games already this season and face the prospect of an early exit from the Champions League but Ten Hag argued other matches are proof the players are still behind him.

“Oh yes, I am sure,” he said. “You can see for instance the comeback against Brentford, the Burnley game, the Fulham game, every time the team is there, showed great character, great determination, resilience, so we are together. You can see you can’t play such great football as we did lately if there is no unity.

“I listen always to my players and I give them always opportunities to tell. If the players have a different opinion of course I will listen. But they haven’t told me. Or maybe one or two, but it is about in general, the majority, they want to play like this – proactive, dynamic, brave, that is what they want.

“You can see the players are behind it because of the performances against Everton and Galatasaray. You see we are really improving. You see that goal? Do you think we can make the goals we did against Everton if the players don’t embrace it? What do you think?”

Ten Hag said stories about unrest in the camp are not hindering him but added: “Of course there are a lot of rumours about strategic review, but it is not that we get distracted by it. We are on a journey, a route, we know we are still in transition but we are in the right direction, you see it how we construct a team, develop it, the team is progressing, how young players coming in and you see the potential how they can contribute to a very successful Manchester United for the future.”

Ten Hag said United’s players were honest in admitting their own shortcomings in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Newcastle but took heart from their previous two matches, the 3-0 win at Everton and the 3-3 draw with Galatasaray.

He added: “We had a week of two good performances and one bad performance so from there on we carry on, the team is in a good direction. We are not robots. If you play three games in six days, tough games, and yeah by the end the fatigue can be an issue, can never an excuse, but it is there. Against Galatasaray and against Everton we played very good, against Newcastle we were not happy with our performance. We are the first to say. The players are the first, they are so self-critical. They admit this. We know. We have to do better than this.”

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