Manchester United escaped Craven Cottage with a slender 1-0 win thanks to captain Bruno Fernandes’ heroics.
“Clear” was Erik ten Hag’s response when asked how big a goal Fernandes’ finish was and how much it has affected the mood in the dressing room.
The manager also seemingly had a dig at VAR when mentioning the club scored at the start and also at the end of the game.
The embattled Dutch manager continued by defending his captain. The Portugese midfielder has faced a volley of criticism over the last few games about his captaincy, mosy notably from former skipper, Roy Keane.
However the manager told TNT Sports in his post-match comments that “I don’t understand it. Everyone has mistakes and no one is perfect. He’s massively important to us.” This affirmation was backed up Bruno’s vital late strike.
The manager also used his time with the press to support much-maligned former captain, Harry Maguire.
Ten Hag praised the English defender for “not only defending” but also “very good progressive passing, through the lines”. He labelled it “a very good performance.”
“I don’t understand it.” 🤷♂️
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) November 4, 2023
The Dutchman was also delighted with the midfield by complimenting the balance and claiming it was “well set-up”. However, the United coach was clearly bristled when TNT Sports pundit, Rio Ferdinand, questioned the team’s style of play this season. The coach claimed his side did play the way he wanted last season and this term’s inability to do so was largely down to injuries.
The former Ajax boss provided a measured response when asked to sum up the game by asserting that “it was a solid performance. A base and foundation we can improve on.”
With more possession, more shots on target and a goal ruled out by a contentious VAR decision, United will feel they did enough to deserve the much-needed points ahead of a crucial Champions League tie with Copenhagen.
This was United’s third consecutive away victory in the league. This is the first time they have achieved this since 2020. Nonetheless, the manager, players and fans will know that performances will need to improve if the team really is to take the next steps up the Premier League table.
On to Denmark Ten Hag’s side march, hopefully to claim a vital European victory.