Erik ten Hag told his Manchester United players of one aspect of their game that was “not acceptable” in their loss to Atletico Madrid, despite a positive performance.
Ten Hag won his first three pre-season friendlies in charge of Manchester United. However, after a draw with Aston Villa, his first defeat came on Saturday. Atletico Madrid narrowly beat the Red Devils courtesy of a late goal from Joao Felix.
Manchester United had more shots – including those on target – and possession than their opponents. But they couldn’t make it count, leaving Ten Hag to reflect on his first taste of defeat in his new job.
The manager told the club’s in-house media: “I think it was a tough workout and I think we contributed really well. I think the performance from our team was really good.
“In the end it’s about the result and the score is not good. You have to take benefit if you create chances and I think we create many chances. Not to produce at least one goal, we didn’t do.
“From the last chances they create, they score one. So that point I’m not satisfied.
“I have told the team it’s not acceptable. You have to be sharp in the box both sides.
“Our possession game, our transition game, I think was really good. So we create a lot of threat for them. We had weapons. We can create opportunities.
“So at that point I was really satisfied. Also from set play, I had a big chance from Harry Maguire. So we had enough, but it wasn’t enough to win the game and that’s always our aim.”
Erik ten Hag reacts to Christian Eriksen debut
One positive aspect for United to take from the game in Oslo was the fact that Christian Eriksen made his debut. After arriving on a free transfer from Brentford in the summer, the Denmark international came on for a runout of around 20 minutes.
Erik ten Hag commented: “We know what he is able to do. And I think with our frontmen, he’s able to give them in the right moment the right passes.
“So he will create chances and then it’s about finishing.”
The game ended on a sour note for United due to a red card for Fred. In a game of many bookings for players on each side, the midfielder picked up his second in stoppage time.
Separately, Ten Hag said some of the challenges he saw during the game overstepped the mark somewhat.
He reacted: “Yes, I like competitive, but of course always with respect and I don’t want to have injuries as well. That’s why you have to keep respect for each other.
“I’ve seen some tackles that are maybe a little bit over the limit.”
Man Utd will be in action again when they host Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford on Sunday. Ten Hag has confirmed how he will rotate his squad between the two fixtures.
The Dutchman explained: “The players who played today from the start, they will not come on tomorrow. So tomorrow we will have a different starting XI. But there are players who came on who can start tomorrow.”
Then, it will be time for the real thing; Brighton will be visiting for the beginning of the Premier League season on August 7th.