Erik ten Hag has insisted Manchester United have the spirit and togetherness to emerge from their early season crisis after it deepened on Tuesday night with a 3‑2 home defeat against Galatasaray in the Champions League.
United led twice through Rasmus Højlund but fell apart to lose in the closing stages, when the visiting striker Mauro Icardi also missed a penalty; Casemiro was sent off after conceding it.
Ten Hag’s team have lost six of their opening 10 games in all competitions, with their Champions League hopes in the balance after two defeats in two ties. Ten Hag, though, was defiant, particularly when asked about the security of his own position.
“Last season went brilliant, terrific, more than we could expect but also in this project we knew there would be gaps,” the manager said.
“We are in a very difficult period but we come out together, we fight together, we stick together – and that is me, the directors, the team. This is not us. We know we will do better.
“There are no excuses. OK, we have maybe a bit of an unbalanced left side [because of injuries] but we can’t make the errors we are making.
“I have seen a team that was really connected, with a great spirit and they played in stages of the game fantastic – twice up, totally in control. And all of a sudden we made a mistake. I know football is a game of mistakes but I have to give coaching instructions how we have to do it with such situations and we got punished.”
There were boos at full time, which Ten Hag said he could understand. “They [the fans] can expect responsibility for this team, the performance, the result. But I have also seen a team with great spirit and also a team that was backed by a crowd from the start to the end. We are also very disappointed. That is fuel.”
It was another difficult night for the goalkeeper, André Onana, who played Casemiro into trouble for the penalty and red card, although he was not alone in terms of defensive players who suffered.
“We are happy with our goalkeeping group,” Ten Hag said. “Andre was in one semi-final of the Champions League [with Ajax], he was in the final last season [with Internazionale] so he has capabilities to be one of the best goalkeepers in the world and he has shown that. We have already seen in games his great capabilities, also his personality. He will bounce back.”