Erik ten Hag explains Bruno Fernandes position change for Manchester United win over Aston Villa
Erik ten Hag reserved special praise for Bruno Fernandes and Victor Lindelof after Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Aston Villa.
Fernandes scored the only goal of the game at Old Trafford before a defensive rearguard, led by centre-backs Lindelof and Luke Shaw, secured the win.
It ended Villa’s 10-match unbeaten run and returned United to winning ways after their 2-2 draw at Tottenham on Thursday.
“A good three points but I think an impressive performance,” said Ten Hag. “We were magnificent on the ball, had good possession and pressed well.
“In the second half you want to go 2-0 ahead but we didn’t so it’s always going to be a tough finish.”
The United boss highlighted the performances of Lindelof, who kept Villa at bay in the second half and whose goalline clearance maintained United’s slender lead, as well as goalscorer Fernandes, who was playing in an unfavoured right-wing position.
“He played brilliant,” said Ten Hag on the Swede. “He was totally in control in the area around [Ollie] Watkins.
“Bruno had another great game. The plan was to play him from the right to make runs behind and he did that so well. I think our plan worked very well.
“He can play several roles. You need players like Bruno to be successful. Against Everton he can play from a deeper role, from the side he’s a very good presser, he understands the moment when to close down, when to put an opponent into trouble.”
The three points put United in the driving seat for Champions League qualification. The win stretched their advantage over fifth-placed Tottenham to nine points before Spurs clashed with Liverpool at Anfield.
“We look from game to game and next we have Brighton [on Thursday] so we need to work hard again. We need to show passion again and not worry about the table,” Ten Hag said.
“We are totally in control [in the race for top four], it’s all about us and it’s in our hands.”