EPL

Ten Hag refuses to entertain question about United’s worst Premier League season

By Sports Desk April 13, 2024

Erik ten Hag refused to entertain a question about potentially overseeing Manchester United’s worst Premier League season and has not given up on Champions League qualification.

Seventh-placed United suffered another setback in an underwhelming campaign after requiring a Bruno Fernandes brace to scrape a scarcely-deserved 2-2 draw at Bournemouth.

United have never finished below their current position since the league’s inception in 1992.

“I don’t comment on that question,” replied Ten Hag as he walked out of his post-match press conference when asked about the prospect of ending below seventh place.

“That is not important at the moment.”

Ten Hag’s men were tormented by impressive Bournemouth for much of an uninspiring outing at Vitality Stadium and twice trailed in the first half following goals from Cherries pair Dominic Solanke and Justin Kluivert.

United, who have a lengthy injury list, particularly in defence, sit 10 points adrift of the top four with only six games remaining on the back of just one win from seven matches.

Asked if the Champions League places were now beyond his team, Ten Hag replied: “No. I didn’t say that.

“We give what we can but I am also realistic, so when the full squad was there, I still would have said I believe.

“But we will keep fighting with the players who are available and you can see there is high potential.

“But also young players they make mistakes. They have proved they can compete with the best teams on the highest level but now they have to do it consistently. There is always the next step for young players.”

Solanke and Kluivert each capitalised on passive United defending to fire beyond Andre Onana, while Bournemouth also missed a host of first-half chances and struck the crossbar through Milos Kerkez.

Fernandes briefly levelled between those strikes and, having hit the bar from distance, equalised for a second time with a 65th-minute penalty after Adam Smith was punished for handling Kobbie Mainoo’s harmless deflected effort.

United looked set to face a stoppage-time penalty before breathing a sigh of relief when VAR intervened to rule Willy Kambwala’s challenge on Ryan Christie was outside the 18-yard box.

Ten Hag, who revealed centre-back Harry Maguire played with an injury issue in the first half, dismissed the suggestion his players are lacking motivation.

“I have been in football a very long time and they are very motivated,” said the Dutchman.

“We are motivated but the organisation wasn’t right and we lost balls where we shouldn’t and the pressure of the opponent.

“But our players are better than this.

“The good thing is we returned twice from losing positions. The spirit is good, the resilience is good.”

Bournemouth boss Andoni Iraola questioned the consistency of top-flight officiating after falling agonisingly short of securing his club’s first league double over the 20-time English champions.

The Spaniard felt Kambwala’s challenge on Christie continued into United’s 18-yard box and deemed Smith’s handball “very harsh”.

“It’s not only about the important decisions,” said the Premier League’s manager of the month for March.

“It’s about Kobbie Mainoo diving in the first half, nothing happens; Ryan Christie, with much more contact, dives in the second half, yellow card. It’s about consistency.

“We are safe, yes, but you have to value our points, the same way you value United’s points – in the same exact way.

“The last decision, for the VAR to intervene for something that should be clear and obvious, the first touch between the players can be one centimetre outside, it has to be clear, but it’s obvious he continues making the offence inside and doesn’t allow Ryan to finish the play.”

Speaking of Smith’s handball, Iraola said: “It’s very harsh. It’s coming from his own team-mate, a rebound.

“You are two metres away, you don’t have time to do anything. They are going in the right way with the handballs because at one moment they were calling everything but today they changed their way of refereeing.

“At the end, one point against United is always important. But if anyone deserved to win today, it was clearly Bournemouth.”

Related items

  • Guardiola: Foden can still get better after Player of the Year award Guardiola: Foden can still get better after Player of the Year award

    Pep Guardiola thinks Phil Foden can still get better, after the 23-year-old winning the Premier League’s Player of the Year.

    Foden has been a pivotal part of City’s title challenge this season, scoring 17 goals and providing eight assists in the top-flight in 2023-24.

    It is the youngster’s most prolific scoring season for City, while only six players have bettered Foden’s goal haul in the Premier League.

    When asked about the strides that Foden has made this season, leading him to the award, Guardiola praised the England international’s influence on the squad.

    "Obviously, he makes a step forward as a football player. In terms of minutes or time, but he's decisive in winning games," Guardiola said.

    "Maybe before it was a glimpse of action, but now it's consistent. That is the truth, but they still have a margin. Sometimes his game is overexcited, it's over, and you have to be more calm because his excitement he has for himself, but we'll have question of time, but this season has been really, really important. Really, really important."

    Foden has bettered his tally of 11 goals from last season and leads City’s squad for chances created this campaign with 68.

    "He's moving forward, but I had the feeling he can be better, and I think he can do it because I've said many times, that he loves football," Guardiola added.

    "He enjoys being on the pitch, and I think the feeling doesn't like when you have the day off.

    "He likes to be in the training session doing less or more and I had the feeling it still can be better."

    Manchester City can win a fourth-consecutive Premier League title on Sunday against West Ham, if they can match or better Arsenal's result.

  • Objectives met: Shabazz pleased with Golden Jaguars' showing despite losses to T&T Objectives met: Shabazz pleased with Golden Jaguars' showing despite losses to T&T

    Despite losing both friendly encounters to Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana senior men’s Head coach Jamaal Shabazz says their objectives were met, as the players that made the trip to the twin island republic gained invaluable experience that will assist to shape their future in the sport.

    The Golden Jaguars lost 1-2 and 0-2 to Angus Eve’s Soca Warriors at the Crawford Stadium, in Port of Spain, but for Shabazz, the fixtures served their purpose of gauging the readiness of players, who competed in recently concluded Round One of the KFC Elite League Season, especially with the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers scheduled to get under way next month.

    “We did not win, but a lot of questions were answered as to who is ready to move into our full international squad. We achieved our other objectives. We got higher level match practice for the likes of Daniel Wilson, Kelsey Benjamin, Curtez Kellman, Colin Nelson and Ryan Hackett, all of whom travel with our first team. We gave valuable exposure to players like Marcus Tudor, Simeon Moore, Chris Macey and Stephen McDonald, just to name a few,” Shabazz shared.

    “It is clear that player for player we were able to match our opponents. Some boys gave a good account of themselves, and some were a bit nervous. Most importantly, the lads would have learnt a few lessons for their future, like the margin for error at international level is small and the need for more composure in front of goal,” he added.

    Aside from those he mentioned, Shabazz also had three overseas-based players from Canada, France and the United States, in his 24-member squad, and by all indications, a few more might be assessed, as the tactician prepares to select his final squad for the qualifiers.

    Guyana will contest Group D of the qualifiers, alongside Panama, Montserrat, Belize and Nicaragua. They are set to open against Panama in Panama City on June 6, followed by the Belize encounter on June 11 in Barbados.

    Shabazz expressed gratitude for the continued support in gifting local-based players the opportunity to showcase their potential, and challenge for spots in the final squad.

    “I must thank the Government of Guyana and the Guyana Football Federation for enabling this exposure for the home-based players. At least twice a year we should get these types of matches for home-based players to develop,” Shabazz noted.

  • Guardiola: Other clubs have a chance to win the title against Man City Guardiola: Other clubs have a chance to win the title against Man City

    Pep Guardiola believes that other clubs do have the chance to win the Premier League while he is the Manchester City manager. 

    Guardiola has led the Citizens to five top-flight titles in his seven seasons in charge, including each of the last three in a row.

    They have the opportunity to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive Premier League campaign – they must match or better Arsenal’s result on the final day against West Ham to finish top of the table.

    Asked what he thought about the narrative that suggested other teams struggle to win the title while he is at City, Guardiola immediately brushed the idea aside.

    He said: "It is wrong, look at the margin. If every season I won by 20 points, then I would say yes I am a genius, I'm so good, but it's not.

    "The Premier League we won against Liverpool they could have won. Arsenal can win, we can win. It's like that.

    "My judgement about the team, about how we behave, nothing changed, nothing changed. My opinion of Liverpool this year has not changed, whether they have won or not won.

    "I know here there is just a prize for the winners and the winners smell good and everyone won a copy and everything, but it's not.

    "It's not the case because behind of arriving here in the last press conference of the season before the last game of the Premier League there are a lot of work, like Liverpool was and Arsenal have been this season."

    Guardiola was also quick to highlight the hard work of everybody at the club during their title challenge.

    "It's not because of what we have done in the past gives you this season, it's completely the opposite," he continued. 

    "There are a lot of work for all departments. How many my backroom staff, the medical department, the physio department, how they care all the seasons, every single few, few injuries.

    "Injuries are always there, but the balance is ridiculous, how good it is, and that's because there is a lot of work, they care about the players and the people, you know, every single day, hours and hours being above the players, you have to do this, you have to do this, you have to do this to be fit. So otherwise, we cannot be where we are."

    The City manager was also asked about his future at the club, and whether he would be continuing past the end of the season.

    "Yeah, I have a contract. I want to be here next season, yes," he added. 

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.