Manchester United under-fire manager Erik Ten Hag came out fighting during a media grilling on Friday ahead of his faltering side’s Premier League trip to Fulham.
The Dutchman has been under intense scrutiny after eight defeats from 15 matches in all competitions United’s worst start to a season since 1962.
While fingers have been pointed at his under-performing squad, Ten Hag’s tactics have also been criticised and some have suggested defeat at Craven Cottage could cost him his job.
Ten Hag, however, remains defiant and said the mood in the camp was to put things right after back-to-back 3-0 home losses to Manchester City and Newcastle United.
“They’re positive and they want to put this right. We know the standards here and we have to make the standards every day,” Ten Hag told reporters at United’s training ground.
“We had two big setbacks. But this squad is strong, the staff is strong and this manager is strong to put this right.”
Eighth-placed United has lost half of its Premier League games and five of its first 10 home matches in all competitions.
“I’m convinced about the players in the dressing room,” Ten Hag, who has spent 400 million pounds in the transfer market since taking over in the summer of 2022, said. “We have seen last year they can do a lot better.
“But that is up to me to let them play better and I take the responsibility for that and I will put every effort in to get this done. When players are available and return from injuries we will play better, definitely.”
Ten Hag was asked about comments following the City defeat in which he appeared to suggest his United team could not play the passing style of his previous Ajax team.
He responded is feisty fashion.
“I thought the explanation (of my comments) from my point of view was totally wrong,” said Ten Hag, who enjoyed an impressive first season at Old Trafford with a League Cup triumph and third place in the Premier League.
“I came here with my philosophy based on possession but also to combine it with the DNA of Manchester United and combine it with the players, the competencies and the characters of the players. Last season I think we played very good football.
“This season the philosophy is no different. No I don’t want to play long balls. Yes, I want to play from the back as we did. I didn’t buy Andre Onana to go for long balls.
“We want to press and we want to press from different blocks and then go direct because we have the players like Rasmus Hojlund and Marcus Rashford and Anthony and Bruno Fernandes.”
Ten Hag accepted that his players were struggling to execute the game plan.
“We can’t line up the same two or three games in a row,” he said. “Every time we have to adjust and that doesn’t help your routines. But I don’t want to make excuses. We have to win and we have to be more pragmatic.”
United will be without midfielder Casemiro on Saturday after he was ruled out for several weeks with a hamstring injury but defender Raphael Varane could return after illness.
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