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Embattled Ten Hag urges United to keep the faith

Updated: 2023-12-07 10:39
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Erik ten Hag. [Photo/Agencies]

LONDON — Erik ten Hag urged Manchester United's hierarchy to keep faith with him on Tuesday, claiming his track record proves he is the right man to rebuild the club.

Ten Hag is under fire following a turbulent start to a season that began with high hopes after the Dutch boss led United to its first trophy in six years last term.

Having won the League Cup, reached the FA Cup final and finished third in the Premier League, Ten Hag was expected to mastermind a title challenge.

But instead, Saturday's limp 1-0 loss at Newcastle was the Red Devils' 10th defeat in 21 matches in all competitions, leaving them five points adrift of the Premier League's top four.

United, who was due to host Chelsea on Wednesday, is also in grave danger of being eliminated from the Champions League when it faces Bayern Munich in its final group match next week.

Adding to Ten Hag's problems, reports have emerged that a section of United's squad have become disillusioned with his intense training sessions and hard-line discipline.

United was furious not to have been given a right to reply to the reports.

And Ten Hag came out fighting when he faced the media on Tuesday, insisting he would eventually show that United's owners, the Glazer family, were right to hire him last year.

"There will be always tough times in every journey. We are in the right direction," he said.

"I know we will get there where we want to be. Because ... see my record.

"Everywhere I was, every season, I got my targets, so if we stick together, stick to the plan and the strategy, we will get where we want to be."

'We are together'

Ten Hag managed Go Ahead Eagles and Utrecht before flourishing at Ajax and earning his move to Old Trafford.

The 53-year-old won three league titles with Ajax, who he led to the Champions League semifinals in 2019.

Asked what the realistic time frame is for getting United back to similar heights, Ten Hag said: "First of all, I can't say in this club we are waiting for two, three years.

"This club the aim is, the demand is and the standards should be that you win every game.

"I demand of my team, my players to win every game. Doesn't matter who the opponent is, and I will stick to that. That brought us last year very far.

"That mentality I don't want to change this because that will be a drop-off in culture."

Ten Hag insisted he has the players' full backing heading into another crucial week.

"Oh yeah, I never had the idea they don't (back me) because I know they would have dropped me against Fulham or Burnley if it was the other situation," he said.

"Of course negativity is never good. You have to take care it never kills the energy.

"But I don't care because I know, and all the players know, we are the biggest club in the world, or one of the biggest clubs, then you know you get a lot of attention.

"We are together in that. There's no way that you are alone there. You are together in that boat."

Media ban

Reporters from Sky Sports, the Daily Mirror, Manchester Evening News and ESPN were all barred from attending Ten Hag's news conference over the outlets' reports of player unrest at United.

"We're taking action against a number of news organizations today, not for publishing stories we don't like, but for doing so without contacting us first to give us the opportunity to comment, challenge or contextualize," United said in a statement, which did not say how long the ban would last.

"Of course there are always in every team players who are not playing or playing less who are less happy, that is not different to normal, in some circumstances you need that, they have to wait for their chance and that can come. But, no, there are no issues," Ten Hag said of the alleged dressing-room discontent.

"We are on a journey, a route, we know we are still in transition, but we are in the right direction," he added. "You see it how we construct a team, develop it, the team is progressing. How young players (are) coming in and you see the potential how they can contribute to a very successful Manchester United for the future."


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