The Dutchman has seen his side pick up six points in their first three games of the season, but in terms of play, United have only occasionally shone.
United have looked very open in midfield and given their opponents plenty of space. And in the second part of the press conference before the Arsenal game Ten Hag pointed out that this wasn’t a problem in the first place due to the midfielders not doing the job.
– The attacking players didn’t do their job and the defense didn’t do their job. We must make sure to be tighter. “We’ve had problems with how the defense moves and we’ve had problems with attacking players transitioning into defensive play,” said Ten Hag, who was asked if the problems lay on a physical or mental level.
Then the Dutchman was clear:
– It lies on the mental level. I set a standard and the players know what I’m asking. This is something I cannot compromise on. If you do this, you will become weak and will no longer be able to win matches. But the players showed last season that they have mental strength, and I expect and demand more this season, says Ten Hag.
Roser Hoglund, but he’s asking for time
Many of the questions in the second part of the press conference were about Dane Rasmus Höglund.
Erik ten Hag makes no secret of the fact that it would be nice to see the Dane in a United shirt.
– The impression is very good and he has confirmed that he has the qualities that we saw when we discovered him. He’s very excited to get started. Of course, I would have preferred him to play with us from the first game, but I’m glad he’s ready now.
– Højlund gives us balance. He’s a different kind, an impulsive type who gives energy to those around him. Give him time and let him settle. We expect great things from him, and he will come. I’m sure, but give him time. When we scouted Rasmus, we looked for his skills and personality. I am convinced he has what it takes.
Ten Hag was also asked if United can see themselves as title contenders now after he said earlier this summer that only City could see themselves as natural contenders for the title.
– All the teams around us, 7-8 teams, have noticeably strengthened. Manchester City have been the best team in recent years, and they can consider themselves the favourites. Other teams will have to prove that they can be worthy competitors. “That’s what I meant,” Ten Hag indicated.
At the moment, the Dutchman says, not titles, is the more important goal in the short term.
We have to get to a position where we can win titles, but that’s not our focus right now. Focus now on winning matches. Then comes the second.
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