EPL

Erik ten Hag backs David De Gea after costly mistake at West Ham

By Sports Desk May 07, 2023

Erik ten Hag threw his backing behind David De Gea despite the slip which loosened Manchester United’s grip on the final Champions League place.

Goalkeeper De Gea is in talks over a new contract at Old Trafford, but he did not exactly enhance his negotiating position after letting let Said Benrahma’s hopeful shot from 20 yards bounce over his glove to condemn United to a 1-0 defeat at West Ham.

They now lie just one point ahead of a rapidly advancing Liverpool, albeit with a game in hand, after an eighth defeat on the road this season and a second in four days following the last-gasp loss at Brighton.

“Frustrating? Yes, I’ve seen it in the same way. I think we started well, dictated the game, created chances, didn’t take them and then one mistake,” said United boss Ten Hag.

“Twice individual mistakes and you lose games. But it is what it is. Now we have a full week, we have to reset, reload and keep going.

“(De Gea) has the most clean sheets in the Premier League, we would not be in this position without him. No concerns. It happens but as a team you have to deal with it, show character and resilience.

“We want him to stay and to extend his contract.”

Lukasz Fabianski made late saves from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial but Ten Hag’s side offered little in their 57th match of a gruelling season which, as well as Liverpool, might just be catching up with them.

But Ten Hag insisted: “Nothing changed. We could have made it easier with a win. We need three wins from four games, everything is in our hands.

“Tiredness is in your head. If you have the willingness you can take it. It’s up to the players and staff to be together, to get the willingness in that we can take it.

United’s defeat could prove as costly for the visitors as it was priceless for West Ham, who climbed seven points above the relegation zone and are surely now safe.

It was a first victory over his former club for Hammers manager David Moyes since he was in charge at Everton, in August 2012, and a huge boost ahead of this weeks Europa Conference League semi-final against AZ Alkmaar.

“It’s a huge step, getting three points is huge against whoever but against Manchester United was massive for us,” said Moyes.

“It’s a great result going into a European semi-final and we’ll take a lot of confidence from it. We have another big challenge and we are looking forward to it.”

Hammers skipper Declan Rice put in another terrific display, showing just why the likes of United, Arsenal and Chelsea are constantly being linked with him this summer.

“He was outstanding tonight. He’s great across the ground, very quick. I’m pleased, but not surprised,” added Moyes.

“That’s why he’s probably the best England midfield player around – and he’s going to be extremely expensive if anyone comes in for him.”

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    Ange Postecoglou has no interest in following the lead of Newcastle and other clubs, which includes his own, of allowing the TV cameras inside the Tottenham dressing room to film a documentary.

    Spurs return to St James’ Park on Saturday for the first time since their 6-1 thrashing last April, which features in a recent docuseries about the north-east club.

    Episode three of the four-part series focuses on a match which proved the nadir of a sorry season for Tottenham and subsequently resulted in the appointment of Postecoglou in June.

    This documentary about Newcastle is the latest in a collection of sports series by Amazon Prime, which includes Spurs’ 2019-20 campaign where then-manager Jose Mourinho predictably proved a TV star, but the current coach in the hotseat has no such burning desire.

    “Nah, unless you want a cure for insomnia, mate. Put it on late at night and dream yourself away,” Postecoglou replied when asked if he would feature in a behind-the-lens documentary.

    “I’ve probably watched… I watched Sunderland ‘Til I Die, it was good.

    “(Not Tottenham) because I just think it becomes a bit manufactured. I’d be very surprised if you get a real sort of glance.

    “Look, who am I to say? I’m no movie critic. Maybe people like them, but not for me. I love documentaries, but nah.”

    The Newcastle documentary is not the only footage Postecoglou has no interest in viewing.

    He has also declined to watch back Tottenham’s five-goal humbling away to Eddie Howe’s team last season, which resulted in Spurs dismissing Cristian Stellini after he had stepped up on an interim basis to replace Antonio Conte, who left a month earlier.

    Postecoglou added: “I might have watched individual players in that game but I wouldn’t have watched the game as a reference point because it’s totally different.

    “It’s a different set of circumstances, different manager. I’m really reticent to judge and try to figure out what someone else thinks because I’m not in their shoes on a daily basis.

    “I have never used those kind of things and also, irrespective of what has happened in the past, I have more than likely been brought in to do something differently.

    “I watched all the players individually through the whole season to do my research on the players I was inheriting, but there wasn’t a lot for me to be gained from watching matches and trying to get some reference points as to how that’s going to affect what I am going to do.”

    Spurs travel to Newcastle in pole position to claim Champions League football after they leapfrogged Aston Villa last weekend to take control of the battle for fourth.

    Postecoglou has often cited the Magpies as an example of why qualifying for Europe’s elite competition is not a guarantee of long-term success, but was happy to talk up the potential of the Tottenham squad on Friday.

    “That’s the exciting thing for me with this group – we’ve got a real core and there’s still so much growth in them,” he explained.

    “Invariably, it’s their first season in the Premier League or they’re young in age and they’ve adapted so well at a big club where there are expectations.

    “It’s not like they’re going to fly under the radar by doing two or three years before moving to a big club. They’re under the spotlight straightaway.

    “I have been pleased with that, with the way the guys have accepted the challenge of playing for the club and challenging them to play in a certain way – and it’s going to expose them in many respects – but they’ve not shied away from that.”

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    But asked if he was happy with Haaland’s all-round contribution, Guardiola said: “A lot. He helps us to make more spaces in the areas and his contribution has been exceptional since the day he arrived last season.”

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    City can go top of the Premier League for 24 hours at least if they beat Luton on Saturday, and face an FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea next weekend.

    “We are quite similar to last season,” Guardiola said. “We scored four goals, four goals, three goals in the last three games, 11 goals in three games.

    “And (Haaland) helped us score some of them (by) creating lots of spaces for the other ones to score the goals. I saw in his face, in what he said after the game, in the locker room, he was extremely happy (in Madrid).

    “It was a good result, let’s see what happens next Wednesday. Now the target is Luton.”

    Bidding to win the Premier League for a fourth straight season, City remain locked in a tight race at the top. They start the weekend a point behind both Arsenal and Liverpool, with their rivals not in action until Sunday.

    City have twice won the title on the final day of the season under Guardiola, but this is the first time they have faced a three-way title race so late in the campaign.

    “We know what we have to do,” Guardiola said. “We’ve done it. The people say, ‘you’ve done it, so you’re going to win’. No, it’s not about that. But we have done it and know exactly what we have to do.

    “The players will be ready. There is no doubt about that. We know what we are playing for.”

    Although a treble repeat is still possible, there is a sense City have not been at the same standards this term, with injuries taking a toll.

    “(The players) know how tough it has been this season for many reasons, maybe one of the toughest seasons we have faced for sure,” Guardiola added.

    “We know exactly internally how difficult it has been in many, many moments this season and we were still there, we were there. I know the players will be ready.”

    After Tuesday’s match in Madrid, Rodri had said he was in need of a rest after his 41st appearance of the season. Guardiola indicated any player who wanted a breather need only ask, but that he expects the 27-year-old Spain midfielder to be available to face Luton.

    “It is normal,” Guardiola said. “If one player feels that, what is the problem? All the teams who play in the latter stages of all competitions, Champions League, Europa League, fighting for qualifications, or against relegation, all have the same problem with the amount of games…

    “I’m pretty sure Rodri will be ready. I know him. After the game he was tired because it was tough, the game against Real Madrid. He came from Crystal Palace and it was really tough as well.

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    The Premier League club have brought out a new haptic replica shirt which, when worn at matches, will vibrate in response to crowd noises.

    The technology, which utilises microphones placed around the ground, will be used for the first time as the Magpies host Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday.

    It is a world first in sport but similar systems have been used successfully in other areas of entertainment, particularly classical music concerts.

    Former Newcastle midfielder Rob Lee, who is an ambassador for the project, told the PA news agency: “It’s very difficult as someone who can hear to imagine what it’s like going to a game when you’re deaf.

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    “For these guys to be able to experience that through feel is amazing. It’s great technology.”

    The shirts have numerous sensors integrated throughout the garment, with each responding in different ways to the different sounds captured by the microphones.

    The noises are transformed into digital signals by specialised software and then transmitted wirelessly to the shirts, creating a tactile sensory experience for the wearer.

    Newcastle sponsor Sela, the Saudi events company, has been the driving force behind the initiative as part of its “Unsilence the Crowd” campaign.

    To mark the system’s launch, Sela has gifted its sponsorship rights for the Spurs game – including its logo space on the front of the shirt – to the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) charity.

    The system will be available at all Newcastle home matches from then onwards.

    Lee, who made 381 appearances for the Magpies between 1992 and 2002, said: “St James’ Park is an amazing stadium. It’s always full, the atmosphere is always electric.

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    “If we can get that experience out to the deaf and the hard-of-hearing, then it can only be a good thing.

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