Ten Hag will take over as Manchester United boss at the end of the season and the challenge facing him as laid bare during their humiliating defeat to Brighton on Saturday
The challenge facing Erik ten Hag at Manchester United was laid bare in the aftermath of their dire defeat to Brighton.
Ten Hag will take over as the Red Devils’ permanent manager from the end of the season. The Dutchman is tasked with turning around United’s fortunes following a dreadful campaign that has seen them miss out on qualification for the Champions League.
A litany of unwanted records have been broken, including their lowest-ever points tally in the top-flight. Arguably the lowest point of their year came on Saturday when they were humiliated by the Seagulls. Graham Potter’s men scored four goals to no reply to claim all three points at the Amex. The hammering means that United are now officially out of the top four race, while the highest position they are able to finish is sixth.
It leaves Ten Hag with a vast amount of work to do, if he is to change their fortunes next season. But the task facing him is arguably bigger than he expected when he hears Bruno Fernandes ‘ blasting of his team-mates.
The Portuguese midfielder played all 90 minutes of the humiliating loss. And he took aim at the mentality of his team-mates, blasting their lack of desire to keep their slim top four hopes alive.
“Brighton played much better than us. They had more desire than us, they deserve more than us to win this game. They created a lot of chances and could have scored a lot more times. Obviously we had our chances too but it wasn’t enough and we know that,” Fernandes told MUTV.
“Since the beginning of the game, they were more aggressive than us. We were not strong enough with the second balls in this game. We did some mistakes defensively and offensively, we were not capable of scoring goals.”
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While some may be expecting United’s problems to be fixed through transfers, Fernandes’ comments suggest there is a deep-lying issue in the dressing room. Changing that mentality will have to be at the top of Ten Hag’s priority list.
Otherwise, the toxicity of the dressing room may impact on the new signings that he is able to bring in. Even the signing of serial winner Cristiano Ronaldo has failed to improve the mindset at Old Trafford.
In fact, the Portuguese superstar appeared to be one of the few United players who took the defeat at Brighton to heart. The conceding of three goals in just 11 second-half minutes showcased the mentality problem that Fernandes highlighted.
Arguably, Brighton’s win could have been even more convincing but for some unlucky finishing. Ten Hag may have been watching through his fingers as United fell apart on the south coast, though the dreadful defeat did serve to showcase the true scale of the challenge facing him.