Manchester United manager Ten Hag defends decisions as injuries hit

AP , Saturday 15 Apr 2023

Erik ten Hag says there's a Dutch expression about hindsight.

Erik ten Hag
Manchester United s head coach Erik ten Hag waves after the Europa League first leg quarterfinal soccer match between Manchester United and Sevilla at the Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, Thursday, April 13, 2023. AP


The Manchester United manager was defending his substitution decisions from Thursday's 2-2 draw with Sevilla in the first leg of the Europa League quarterfinals at Old Trafford.

“Where I'm coming from you call it ‘you're looking a cow in the (behind),'” Ten Hag said Friday at a news conference. “We call it that in my region from the Netherlands.”

United finished the match with 10 men because Ten Hag had used up his five substitutions before defender Lisandro Martinez left the game with a fractured bone in his foot shortly after Sevilla scored to make it 2-1 in the 84th minute. The visitors pulled even on Harry Maguire's own goal in stoppage time.

Bruno Fernandes was on a yellow card when he was subbed off just past the hour mark. He had risked a second by throwing the ball away.

“When he (gets) sent off you tell me, ‘hey why don’t you get him off?’”

Ten Hag was speaking before Martinez was ruled out for the rest of the season with a fractured metatarsal bone in his foot. Fellow center-back Raphael Varane also left Thursday’s game with an injury and will miss “a few weeks,” United said.

It's not the first time a United manager used a colorful and anatomical phrase — Alex Ferguson popularized “squeaky-bum time” when describing the tense late moments of a game.

United will try to bolster its top-four position in the Premier League when it visits relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest on Sunday. United is fourth, tied on points with Newcastle and three points better than fifth-place Tottenham.

“We have four or five very good centre-halves who can do the job,” Ten Hag said.

Injuries and a busy slate of games — including the second leg at Sevilla next Thursday followed by an FA Cup semifinal match against Brighton on April 23 — mean lesser-used players must step up.

“You have to wait for your moment, and when your moment is there, you have to contribute. You have to bring your performance. That is what we demand,” Ten Hag said.

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