Nottingham (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Erik ten Hag slammed his Manchester United flops after Saturday’s dismal 2-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest condemned the troubled club to their worst start to a season since 1930.
Ten Hag accused his players of lacking energy and motivation during an awful first half display in which they mustered just one shot.
It got even worse for the beleaguered United boss after the interval as Nicolas Dominguez put struggling Forest ahead.
Marcus Rashford equalised with just his third goal this term, but Morgan Gibbs-White’s late strike handed United a fourth defeat in their last six games in all competitions.
“It’s disappointing. The loss was unnecessary. We lost it in the first half. We weren’t energised enough or invested enough,” Ten Hag said.
“We should invest more in the first half. In the second we were better. In the first half we should have created some moments and we didn’t.
“We know these results are below our standards The players are not happy with this but we have to do better.”
United, nine points adrift of the top four, have lost nine of their opening 20 league games for the first time since 1989-90.
It is now 14 defeats in all competitions for seventh placed United this season — the last time they had more heading into the new year was 1930-31.
They finished 2023 with 21 defeats in all competitions, an unwanted figure they have only surpassed three times in their illustrious history.
Asked to explain United’s disastrous form, Ten Hag blamed the injuries that have denied him key players at various points in the campaign.
“The injuries. Also some issues but mainly the injuries hold us back in the process. In January we have a lot of players returning so then our levels can be higher,” he said.
“We had to change again so every time we have to swap our team. That doesn’t help or support the routines of the team and it explains why you are so inconsistent.
“We had nine different partnerships in the back. It doesn’t matter as well, the fans don’t want to hear this, they want to see us winning and that is what we have to serve them.”
United’s first defeat to Forest since 1994 came in front of Dave Brailsford, who serves as the head of sport for the club’s new investors INEOS.
Brailsford, seated next to United’s former boss Alex Ferguson at the City Ground, is the right-hand man to INEOS chief Jim Ratcliffe.
British billionaire Ratcliffe will head United’s football operations after buying 25 percent of the club from unpopular owners for the Glazers on Christmas Eve.
Asked what he thought Brailsford would take from United’s woeful performance, Ten Hag referenced the absence of ill striker Rasmus Hojlund, who scored the winner against Aston Villa in the previous game.
“Definitely he will see we have our problems. You want to build on the last result but we had to change our striker,” Ten Hag said.
Yet to speak to Ratcliffe and his group, Ten Hag is facing a fight to avoid the sack.
But the former Ajax boss remains adamant he can turn the tide at a club drifting dangerously off-course.
“It will happen. No doubt about that,” he said.
“We will work together to set high targets of course for achievements and structures. We will talk about that.”
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