Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has asked the club’s fans to support him despite their disappointing start to the season.
“We did everything we could, but it wasn’t enough,” the Dutchman said after United’s 3-0 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday at Old Trafford.
“I ask the fans to stay behind us and continue to support the team. We’re all together. There will be better days.”
United had started the game brightly, but were unsettled by the award of a generous penalty to City in the 25thminute when Rasmus Hojlund was adjudged to have pulled back Rodri in the penalty area, before Erling Haaland converted it.
“The penalty changed the game,” said Ten Hag. “I don’t have a comment on it. I don’t have a comment. Yes, I saw it, but no comment.”
“Especially the first half, the game-plan went perfectly. Only the penalty changed the game. The first half, we played very well. We defended very good, closing the spaces, getting into the press, keeping them away from our own goal. Only one big save by Andre Onana, they almost didn’t create. We had opportunities, two or three great breaks, but didn’t benefit from it.”
But United’s performance slumped in the second half, and City doubled their lead after only four minutes when Haaland scored with a header.
“We made an error for the second goal, we made a mistake. A wrong decision by going up to the keeper at the wrong moment. We did not recover quick and they can switch the play, our players are in the wrong positions and they make a great goal. We went out of shape and got killed by that but the first half was so perfect as we defended so well.”
Manchester United’s struggles in front of goal continued against City with their failure to score, and there were boos from some United fans when Ten Hag chose to substitute Hojlund in the second half.
“Rasmus is playing every game and is not used to it. We had to work very hard to get the press on and you have to protect those players. As well, for the team, protect them to bring new energy in. You see the effort Hojlund put in was massive. You have to take one off and Rasmus
Hojlund’s attacking team-mate Marcus Rashford failed to score yet again, and so far has only one goal in 10 Premier League games this season. “It will come,” Ten Hag said. “The moment will come. Every game, he will have his chances and it is up to him but it will come.”
“When you play against City, everything has to be perfect. So you don’t need help but also you don’t want anything against you. Today was not our day.”
“We have to accept that but don’t forget the game-plan was very good in the first half. It hurts a lot. Losing the derby is horrible. It could have been going a different way but it didn’t. Now you have to deal with it. Accept it, how it is, and, in 24 hours, you have to get up and go the next game.