Under-fire Ten Hag urges Manchester United hierarchy to keep faith in him

AFP , Wednesday 6 Dec 2023

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

File Photo: Manchester United s head coach Erik ten Hag gives instructions during the Champions League group A soccer match between Galatasaray and Manchester United in Istanbul, Turkey. AP

Ten Hag is under fire following a turbulent start to a season that began with high hopes after the Dutch boss led United to their 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 United's 10th defeat in 21 matches in all competitions, leaving them five points adrift of the Premier League's top four.

United, who host Chelsea on Wednesday, are also in grave danger of being eliminated from the Champions League when they face Bayern Munich in their last 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 were 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 where 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 during his time in charge of the Dutch giants, who he led to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019.

Asked what the realistic timeframe 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."

Despite the reports, Ten Hag believes 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."

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