Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has spoken out ahead of his side’s Europa League clash with Omonia on Thursday. The Red Devils go into the game looking to return to winning ways after their 6-3 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday. And they know they must emerge victorious to boost their chances of reaching the knockout stages of the competition.
Manchester United have had a mixed record in Europe this season.
They lost 1-0 to Real Sociedad in their first fixture of the tournament, with Lisandro Martinez conceding a penalty that was later converted by Brais Mendez.
But they bounced back by beating Sheriff 2-0 last time out, with Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo both on target.
United lost their first match in seven at the weekend, with City putting them to the sword courtesy of hat-tricks from Erling Haaland and Phil Foden.
One player who wasn’t brought on for that showdown was Cristiano Ronaldo.
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Speaking after the City game, Ten Hag said this was down to ‘respect’ for the veteran’s ‘great career’.
And he’s now double down on his earlier claim, while also insisting his prized asset was happy at Old Trafford despite his lack of game time.
“I can’t see that relation, that he is not coming on when we are 4-0 down, I did not bring him on out of respect,” he said.
“It has nothing to do with the future or January. I don’t see him as unhappy. He is happy, training well and enjoying.
“He’s not happy that he didn’t play Sunday, don’t get me wrong, but the question was about his mood in training, where he’s happy. Of course, he wants to play and he’s p***** off when he’s not playing.”
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Ten Hag also admitted he didn’t enjoy the game against City, too. He said: “It was a difficult day.
“We will analyse, it was a reality check, we need to learn from it and carry on.
You will have setbacks. We beat Arsenal, we beat Liverpool, Sunday we had a bad day at the office.
“City were better, we have to accept that, but we can’t accept our unacceptable performance.”
Sitting alongside Ten Hag at his press conference was Bruno Fernandes, who featured in the defeat on Sunday.
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And the Portugal international has insisted United must learn from the display against City, insisting they’re still in the ‘process’ of understanding Ten Hag’s demands and methods.
“We start this season with a project, it’s clear we want to make a standard with the manager, an idea of play and everyone has to be on the same page,” he said.
“The Premier League is not that easy, we need to be at that high standard. We had those four consecutive wins, and now we have this setback, but it hasn’t changed our ideas, our way of play and what we want to do as a team.
“I think it’s a process. We have had three months with the manager, the team is doing well.
“Its tough, because it’s a derby, but now is the time to get back and win tomorrow.”
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And he continued: “We had a meeting, we went to see the tough things, our mistakes.
“After the game I said, we conceded three goals on the counter against a team that plays with possession. We could have avoided that – we didn’t.
“We know the mistakes and we can’t repeat them again.”
On being captain in the absence of Harry Maguire, he added: “The responsibility is playing for this massive club, we are all feeling it, and we have to share that.
“It does not matter who wears the armband on the pitch.”
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