Manchester United returned to winning ways, showcasing their attacking instincts as they downed Chelsea 2-1 on Wednesday.
The win eased the pressure on manager Erik ten Hag somewhat as the British media had labelled that he had lost the dressing room prior to the encounter at Old Trafford.
This has been a strange season with many terming United as a club in crisis. But the Red Devils are level on points with the pundits’ team of the season Tottenham Hotspur.
They are also ahead of the attractive Newcastle United and only three behind league and European champions Manchester City.
United not in crisis
Ten Hag refused to be drawn into what other teams were doing but did mention that what the media usually write is not always the case.
“So we know where we are going and we had our setbacks, especially at the start of the season, things went against us with injuries, decisions and sometimes you find yourselves in such a place.
“You see the character of the team, we’re in a better place, better form. The performances are increasing, we are performing as a team and as individuals, you have to be sharp in every game.
“This league is very competitive and you see it in results this week. Everyone kills everyone.”
During the difficult moments this season, unlikely heroes have emerged in the form of Scott McTominay and Harry Maguire, both of whom were close to leaving the club in the summer.
Ten Hag praised their mentality during the pre-match press conference and added that this sort of turnaround is what he expects from all considering they all play for United.
“I think we have a squad and in the squad there is internal competition. If you want a successful season you need more than 11 players.
McTominay the saviour
“Finally, in every season, it will turn and in every season it’s what is the best team. They are here, they are great players and played into the team. That’s what you expect from every player, there has to be dedication to aim for this.”
The Scottish international is United’s top scorer this season with six goals in all competitions. His contributions have led to United winning eight more points in the league.
While his positioning this season has led to a midfield imbalance, there is no denying his capabilities as a goal-scoring midfielder.
“Actually from the first moment I saw, he has a very good smell to make it in the box and he is a very good finisher.
“That is not a surprise when the team, when we bring it and the way we want to play and get the balls to them he will finish.”
He took the brave decision of dropping under-performers Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial after their Newcastle debacle.
The Mancunian, especially, has looked like a shadow of his former self, with many calling into question his mentality.
But Ten Hag added that just like the Scotsman and the former skipper, the academy graduate also has it in him to turn around his fortunes this season.
“So Rashford is an incredible, good player. You can’t do it with 11 players, he can’t play every game, he’s not in this moment in the form he was last year but I am sure he will get there.
ETH has faith in Rashford
“What I said about Scott McTominay and Harry Maguire: up to them. The team will always line themselves up and the best players who form the best team will play.”
Their next game at home against Bournemouth might seem easy on paper but the Cherries have been in fantastic form of late, winning three out of their last four games.
As seen often in the Premier League, any team can best the other on a given day and Ten Hag is not taking the game lightly.
“I think they have very good form, Bournemouth, we have seen them, it’s a very good side, very good constructed, capable players, again you have to play your best.
“Everyone is killing everyone, you have to be 100 per cent ready as a team for that game, that’s our job to do, to get there.”