Ten Hag hits back at ‘subjective’ Carragher criticism

27 February 2024 0 By Total Football News

By Simon StoneBBC Sport

‘Footballers are not robots’ – Erik ten Hag

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has hit back at Jamie Carragher’s “subjective” criticism of his tactics in the 2-1 defeat by Fulham.

Ten Hag conceded the ex-Liverpool defender “had a point” but said he has been critical “from the first moment”.

“Some analysts are very objective in their comments, very good advice, some are very subjective,” said Ten Hag.

“Jamie Carragher, from the first moment on, has criticised and now he wants to make his point.”

Carragher had pointed out how United “defends like a side I have never seen before” as they played a low defensive block and a high attacking press, which left huge gaps in the middle of the pitch that Fulham exploited on their way to only a second win at Old Trafford since 1963.

Ten Hag said: “Probably in the first half an hour, yeah, he had a point. Fulham in their midfield set up a little bit surprisingly and we had to find solutions. After half an hour we found the solutions.

“I was not pleased with the performance in defending, especially with the left side, how we did the pressing because they came out, especially in the first half an hour, several times on the left side and that can’t happen. And that has everything to do with willingness, spirit and passion.”

Harry Maguire looked to have rescued a point for United after cancelling out Calvin Bassey’s 65th-minute opener, but Alex Iwobi struck the winner deep into injury time when Fulham counter-attacked from a throw-in close to their own corner flag.

Ten Hag accepted that “can’t happen”, adding: “How we managed it as a team is no good.”

Speaking before Wednesday’s FA Cup fifth-round tie at Nottingham Forest, he said: “I know footballers are not robots, sometimes they have bad days. But it can’t be, it’s unacceptable and we have to do better tomorrow.”

In an interview with MUTV, Ten Hag added that Maguire will miss the match against Forest because of injury, while there are also doubts over the fitness of Raphael Varane and captain Bruno Fernandes.

Ten Hag pushed to sign Brazilian winger Antony from his former club Ajax following his appointment as United boss in 2022.

So far, the £82m fee – second only in United’s history to the amount spent on Paul Pogba – has not proved to be good value.

The 24-year-old has a single goal and one assist this season, both against League Two team Newport in the FA Cup. Against Fulham he was left out of the starting line-up as 19-year-old Omari Forson was handed his full debut.

Ten Hag defended his decision even though Forson failed to shine. And he insists his faith in Antony remains strong.

“I brought in Kobbie Mainoo,” Ten Hag said. “Now, after six weeks, the same people who were questioning it are saying he has to go to the England squad.

“Garnacho: what is the manager doing? What is the staff doing? Similar. They need time.

“Omari came on and it’s not easy. We didn’t play our best game but he plays a reasonable game and showed that he can be a player for the future.

“On Antony, I backed him for a long time. I know his abilities. I know from the past he is unstoppable. He’s one of the quickest in the first 10 yards.