Erik ten Hag: I could have substituted every Manchester United player at half-time

·2-min read
In charge: Erik ten Hag  (REUTERS)
In charge: Erik ten Hag (REUTERS)

Erik ten Hag bemoaned his Manchester United side’s “naive” approach during Saturday’s humiliating defeat at Brentford, and claimed he could have dragged any of his starting XI at half-time.

United, already in a mild state of crisis after last weekend’s defeat to Brighton, were torn apart by Thomas Frank’s men in a blistering first-half display that saw the Bees earn a famous 4-0 win.

A howler from David de Gea allowed Josh Dasilva to open the scoring for the home side, while Mathias Jensen’s second came after former Bees man Christian Eriksen had lost possession on the edge of his own box for the second time in quick succession, with a hospital pass from De Gea equally to blame.

Brentford’s press caused United problems all afternoon but when asked whether he would have to adapt his philosophy if his players prove unable to replicate the style that made Ten Hag’s name at Ajax, the Dutchman said: “I don’t want to play from the back when it’s not possible. It was naive how we played today. You have to play more direct.

“We’d attracted them, the space was high on the pitch. Then you have to choose that option and that’s what we didn’t do. We have to learn. It’s clear at this level that’s not the standard we want to act.

“I will not admit that [they can’t play this way]. They showed already in pre-season, this has nothing to do with that. It’s about when you make the mistakes you make tonight, every plan and strategy you can put in the bin.”

Ben Mee and Bryan Mbuemo added to the scoreline before the break, at which Ten Hag made a triple change.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Summer signing Lisandro Martinez was among those dragged, having been exposed for both the third and fourth goals, but the United boss insisted: “I subbed three but I could have changed them all.

“We wanted to bring some fresh energy in the game, not specific the one who got subbed because I don’t think that’s honest to them.”