I am a fighter – Erik ten Hag determined to improve Manchester United’s form

By Sports Desk November 01, 2023

Erik ten Hag promised he was a “fighter” after Manchester United slumped to a 3-0 Carabao Cup home defeat to Newcastle to pile more pressure on him.

Defeat in the rematch of last season’s final – which United won to highlight a promising first season in charge for the Dutchman – meant United have lost eight of their opening 15 fixtures in all competitions this term, their worst start since the 1962-63 campaign.

Goals from Miguel Almiron, Lewis Hall and Joe Willock ensured a second consecutive 3-0 home defeat for United, comfortably beaten by rivals Manchester City on Sunday, and they were booed off at both half-time and full-time as Ten Hag was left facing some serious questions.

“I am a fighter and I know it is not always going up,” he said.

“We have a lot of setbacks this season so far, but also you have to deal with it and that is never an excuse.

“I have said that before I know when there are setbacks the routines are not the same, but even then you have to get results in. Obviously, Sunday and tonight were far from that so we have to do things right and at a certain level, at the minimum level to win games.”

Questions of Ten Hag were already being asked after Sunday’s derby defeat left United 11 points from the top of the Premier League table after 10 games.

The former Ajax boss said he accepted that, but insisted he had no doubts about his own abilities.

“I understand it when the results are not there,” he said.

“It is also a logical process that they are questioning that. But I am confident I can do it. At all my clubs I have done it and also last year here I did it as well, but at this moment we are in a bad place.

“I take responsibility for it. I see it as a challenge. I am a fighter and I am in that fight and I have to make sure that I share the responsibility with my players and that we stick together and fight together, and get better results.”

Both sides made several changes from the weekend, but even with Newcastle’s resources stretched by injuries they looked by far the sharper of the two sides, winning the midfield battles and finding space going forward, often far too easily down United’s right-hand side in the first half.

“It is below the standards everyone expect from Manchester United,” Ten Hag said.

“It is not good enough by far. We have to put it right. I take responsibility for it. It is my team and they are not performing. I have to share it with my players, but I am responsible.”

Defeat was not the only blow for United with Casemiro, back after a three-game absence, withdrawn at half-time with an unspecified injury which Ten Hag said would rule the Brazilian out of Saturday’s trip to Fulham.

While United assessed the damage, Newcastle enjoyed lengthy celebrations with their loud travelling support after their first Old Trafford victory since December 2013.

“It was a massive performance from the players and I can’t credit them enough,” said Eddie Howe.

“Some great stories, only (an injury to) Matt Targett the negative, but even more credit to the players and some giant performances.

“I personally have always found it a difficult ground and Newcastle the same so another thing to be really proud of the commitment showed by everyone. I thought we showed some great goals, the quality was a real highlight.

“We are determined to try and do well in every game. We picked a team we felt could win and now we will do the same for Arsenal (on Saturday).”

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