Ten Hag labels Rashford as representative of impressive Man Utd feat; explains aspect in which Maguire was ‘magnificent’

Erik ten Hag on the Manchester United touchline Credit: Alamy
Erik ten Hag on the Manchester United touchline Credit: Alamy

Erik ten Hag believes a bond is developing between Manchester United supporters and their players – one of whom epitomises a proud accomplishment for the club.

Manchester United beat West Ham 1-0 on Sunday to make it five games unbeaten in the Premier League. Marcus Rashford headed home the only goal of the game, which was the 100th time he has scored for the club.

As a result, Ten Hag’s side are fifth in the Premier League table after 12 games. They didn’t get there via a vintage performance and had to dig in at times. Crucially, though, they got the full share of the points.

For the manager, there have been noticeable improvements in the kind of winning culture he is trying to instil.

Ten Hag told Match of the Day: “In this team it is a big attitude and winning spirit. You see that, the start of the season not that good but improving a lot. We have to keep that process going.

“The fans also like it. You see developing a bond between the fans and the team, that is good.”

One thing that connects the players and fans – a relationship that hasn’t always been smooth in recent years – is the club’s proud tradition of integrating academy products into their squads.

Rashford himself came through the ranks. Thus, Ten Hag felt it was fitting for him to get the winner this time.

On his display, Ten Hag said: “It is a great performance. It is fantastic and fantastic for Manchester United. They have a great academy and a great history with the academy.

“The player on the 85th anniversary of always having a youth player in the squad or on the pitch and Marcus Rashford I think he is representing that fact and scores a brilliant goal with a great pass from [Christian] Eriksen.

“It was a great header, the day before his birthday, for his 100th goal is a real milestone.”

Ten Hag ‘really happy’ for Harry Maguire

At the other end of the pitch, Manchester United kept a clean sheet for the second game in a row. In fact, they have not conceded a goal from open play in any of their most recent six matches in all competitions.

It represented good news for captain Harry Maguire, who was back in the starting lineup as a centre-half following Raphael Varane’s recent injury.

Maguire has been under pressure in recent months. But Ten Hag felt he demonstrated his importance upon his first start since September 8 in any competition, or August 13 in the Premier League.

Ten Hag claimed: “He was magnificent in protecting the box. He is a great player and a really good defender and we have seen how important he is for the squad.

“I am really happy for the team of course but also Harry Maguire as he came off the pitch with a clean sheet.”

Also important in that regard was goalkeeper David De Gea, who himself has been in the spotlight too of late.

His manager added: “If we don’t manage it with the 10 outfield players on the pitch you can really see defending with 11 because we have a great goalkeeper.

“With great saves and composure you can rely on him.”

But overall, there are still some steps for Manchester United to take to get to where Ten Hag originally envisaged them being.

He concluded: “We have a long way to go. There is a lot of room for improvement. We need to keep the process going and also learn from the wins.

“The second half we could have done it better. We have to also be critical to ourselves. I am happy, don’t get me wrong, with the spirit and the defending, but when you keep the ball better you have more control of the game.”

Next up for Manchester United is an away match against Real Sociedad in the Europa League on Thursday.

READ MORENeville claims Rashford emulated Ronaldo with 100th Man Utd goal, as Saha backs up why comparison is correct

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