Manchester United’s woeful home defeat to Crystal Palace yesterday (Saturday) added to the poor start to the season, for Erik ten Hag and his troops.
It looked as though United had turned a corner after back-to-back wins, the second of which coming against yesterday’s victors, just four days prior to yesterday’s 1-0 defeat.
However, United barely laid a glove on Roy Hodgson’s side and the dire display led to boos from the home faithful at full-time.
As reported by the Daily Mail, Ten Hag says he sympathises with the fans and admits his side should have performed better on the day.
“‘I understand (the boos). We play at home and we play Crystal Palace – we have to win, with all respect. I know every game in the Premier League is difficult. You have to play your best and I understand fans expect the best,” said the boss.
As covered by the manutd.com, Ten Hag explained the reasons for the shock loss, starting with the poor defending for the Palace winner which was lashed home by Joachim Andersen midway through the first half.
“Their goal, first of all, the free-kick. You have to be more controlled, it’s not necessary to make a foul there. Then the ball is coming into the box and it’s not good defending,” he said.
United rarely troubled their former goalkeeper Sam Johnstone in the Palace goal and Ten Hag bemoaned his side’s decision-making in attacking areas.
“We had poor decisions in the final third. We didn’t have an impact to get to their goal and so whatever, the extra pass, final pass or a shot. The quality was just not good enough in that part of the game,” he added.
Ten Hag then demanded more from his underperforming stars who are yet to find any kind of form in the Dutchman’s second season at the club.
“Yes, these players can do better. Sometimes it’s like calmness and composure, other times it’s more clinical, other times it’s more direct. The next time, play the extra pass. As I’ve said, it’s about decision making, the qualities and skillsets the players have,” he said.
Yesterday’s defeat was United’s fourth from their opening seven fixtures in the Premier League, leaving them way off the pace, even at this early stage of the campaign.
There is major work to be done to repeat last season’s decent return of third place, with United looking devoid of any confidence.
Ten Hag admits it isn’t how he expected the season to start but has urged everyone at the club, including the fans, to stick together and help turn the tide as soon as possible.
“It’s a bad start. We have to catch up and do better. This is not good enough. Of course, it’s frustrating for everyone, especially the fans. It’s frustrating but for us, as well, the players and for me. We have to stay together, fight together and get better and make sure we get improvement,” said the manager.
United do have a handful of winnable-looking games upcoming but as yesterday proved, there are no easy games at this level and the team needs to find their feet quickly or risk the season being over before it’s really begun.