Ten Hag: Players can talk to me about poor form

Published on: 05 December 2023

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Erik ten Hag has admitted "one or two" of his players have approached him with suggestions about how to improve Manchester United's form but said his team are heading in the right direction despite a 10th defeat of the season against Newcastle.

United were beaten 1-0 at St James' Park on Saturday as they slipped to seventh in the Premier League. They face Chelsea at Old Trafford on Wednesday and Bournemouth at home on Saturday ahead of a make-or-break Champions League clash against Bayern Munich next week.

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"I listen always to my players and I give them always opportunities to tell, if the players have a different opinion of course I will listen," Ten Hag told a news conference on Tuesday.

"But they haven't told me. Or maybe one or two. But it is about in general, the majority, they want to play like this -- proactive, dynamic, brave, that is what they want.

"You can see the players are behind it because of the performances against Everton and Galatasaray. You see we are really improving."

United finished third and won the Carabao Cup in a positive first season under Ten Hag but the new campaign has started with 10 defeats from 21 games in all competitions.

They are already nine points adrift of Premier League leaders Arsenal and sit bottom of their Champions League group and on the brink of elimination.

Despite all that, Ten Hag said his team are improving.

"We know we are still in transition but we are in the right direction," he added.

"You see it how we construct a team, develop it, the team is progressing, how young players are coming in and you see the potential and how they can contribute to a very successful Manchester United for the future."

Following the defeat at Newcastle, United's players -- in particular Marcus Rashford -- have faced criticism about a perceived lack of effort.

Rashford was seen jogging back while Newcastle attacked before being substituted in the 61st minute.

"We are not robots," Ten Hag said. "If you play three games in six days, tough games, and yeah by the end the fatigue can be an issue. It can never be an excuse, but it is there. Against Galatasaray, against Everton we played very good.

"Against Newcastle we were not happy with our performance. We are the first to say, the players are the first, they are so self-critical, they admit this. We know. We have to do better than this."

Source: espn.co.uk