Manchester United: Erik ten Hag rejects the idea that club is in ‘crisis’7 December 2023
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has rejected crisis talk around Old Trafford and insists his team is moving in the right direction.
Two goals from Scott McTominay sealed a 2-1 victory against Chelsea - the first time this season that Ten Hag's side had beaten a team in the Premier League's current top 10.
The United boss accepted his side could have made it easier for themselves by taking more of their chances - in a game Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino admitted the home team deserved to win.
But Ten Hag was happy with the outcome after a difficult few days where defeat at Newcastle triggered speculation about unrest in the camp.
"Crisis? Not for us," he said. "We keep calm. The team is in a good direction.
"It is not a frustration but we could have made our life easier [by scoring more]. We were very dynamic, proactive and brave and we are pleased with that."
Victory was United's sixth in eight league matches, though match-winner McTominay echoed the observations of former United defender Patrice Evra - working as a television pundit - with a message of "let's not get carried away".
The Scotland midfielder revealed Ten Hag had set up light training sessions since the Newcastle defeat, which gave credence to the suggestions that some United players think they are being worked too hard.
Ten Hag rejected that theory, though.
"That is not new," their manager said. "In such a condensed programme, we always train very light so the players are fresh. This team is capable of playing [in a] dynamic [way]. It is our job, me as a manager and my coaches, to get that right."
It was the second time this season McTominay had scored twice at Old Trafford.
On the previous occasion, he netted twice in stoppage time to turn what looked set to be a defeat by Brentford into a 2-1 win.
His latest effort was not quite as dramatic. Even McTominay admitted he should have had a hat-trick after being set up by Antony but failed to "calm down" as he mis-kicked his effort into the ground.
But Ten Hag feels the 26-year-old can be a useful goal threat.
"He has the smell for when to arrive," said Ten Hag. "It is a matter of organisation. It is our job to make sure when he goes higher, other players play deeper. We have to make use of our players' skills and attributes."
The win moves United back into the top six before the final two games of this Premier League round, on Thursday.
Remarkably, they are now just three points behind Manchester City.
Yet while Ten Hag is saying all the right things, there is still much work to be done.
In-form Bournemouth come to Old Trafford on Saturday before United's Champions League group stage fate is decided against Bayern Munich on 12 December.
After that, trips to Liverpool and West Ham are followed by an encounter with Aston Villa on 26 December.
If they come through that, there will be more credence to Ten Hag's words.
And then there is the issue of Marcus Rashford.
Ten Hag said the England man's omission was due to "rotation". However, it is the first time this season he has missed out on a starting place in the Premier League or Champions League for any reason other than illness or suspension.
And Evra feels there should not be a straightforward route back into the starting line-up for the out-of-form forward.
"They needed a win after the disaster against Newcastle," he told Amazon Prime.
"He put the right players on the pitch. It will be tough for Marcus [Rashford] to come back into the team. I hope this team will stay they will have to fight because the kids played very well today."
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