Manchester United overcame a stern test at the Vitality Stadium this afternoon, bagging a 1-0 win over AFC Bournemouth to edge closer to Champions League qualification.
Erik ten Hag shared some of his thoughts after the match, with plenty of talking points as the season nears its end.
David de Gea has come in for criticism lately, particularly with regard to his costly error against West Ham, but Ten Hag was full of praise for his number one after today’s win.
“David de Gea made a mistake a few weeks ago but everyone can make mistakes. We defend with 11, that’s why we have so many clean sheets. David made some great saves.”
United may only have scored the one goal, but there was never a moment where the team were not in control, an aspect of his team’s performance that delighted the manager.
“We’re going from game to game,” Ten Hag said. “Today I’m very happy, great performance. First 25 minutes was really good.
“It was a great goal from Casemiro. We pinned them back, didn’t let them breathe in the first 25 minutes.”
“In building up, the press, counter press, unlocking the defence, we were magnificent
“The only criticism is we didn’t kill off the game, we had to produce that second goal but that’s the way this team are. It is not easy scoring goals.”
The former Ajax boss singled out his Brazilian midfield general for special praise, adding, “I think he keeps surprising us, Casemiro, he’s such a brilliant football player.”
And it was the entire engine room that impressed the manager, as he insisted, “The whole midfield played brilliant this afternoon.
“We coach a lot of movement behind and it’s a great run from Casemiro and a great touch from Eriksen. The finish is brilliant, of course.
But Ten Hag is obviously concerned with his team’s ability to kill games off, remarking, “That’s one thing we have to improve, to score easily.”
The victory at the Vitality Stadium marks Ten Hag’s 40th win as Manchester United manager, but the Dutchman is not resting on his laurels:
“It can never be good enough,” he said. “We have to win to secure Champions League qualification,” he added, with his focus already on the next match
Had Aston Villa kept a clean sheet against Liverpool today, United would have already secured a Top 4 spot, but that is of no concern to Ten Hag.
“I don’t care what happens in Liverpool, it’s about us,” the manager said. “We have to do the job.”
Manchester United can complete that job against Chelsea on Thursday night.
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