Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Erik ten Hag ‘always confident’ Man Utd would see out Southampton win but demands one aspect of performance gets better

Erik ten Hag, Steve McClaren Southampton v Man Utd

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag always felt confident his side would see out the 1-0 win over Southampton despite some nervy moments towards the end of the game.

United ended a dismal sequence of seven straight Premier League away defeats as they secured a narrow victory at St Mary’s thanks to Bruno Fernandes’s second-half volleyed winner.

Having watched his side bounce back from their opening two defeats to beat Liverpool impressively on Monday night, Ten Hag wanted his side to follow up that performance up against Saints.

Fernandes broke the deadlock 10 minutes after half-time to secure the three points. However, the home side were guility of missing some good chances to take a share of the spoils.

And speaking after the game to Match of the Day, Ten Hag said there is still plenty to improve on from his side: “I think the players learnt some lessons from Brentford. We were more compact on the long balls.

“Of course we were really happy. The goal we created, we could have made more. You hope to have more control in the last 30 minutes of the game.

“Before half time we already had the best chance of the game. I was satisfied. At the start of the game we could have created more.

“It is the start of the season, it is tough. You have to battle and we did that today so we were rewarded.

“It was a fantastic finish. I am really happy for Bruno [Fernandes]. But I think it was the best part of us. We kept control straight after half-time. We moved it around and we created three really good chances straight after half time and that is how I want us to play.

“I still feel there is room for improvement, to control more, but we are not that long in our way. We can improve that is clear.”

Ten Hag creates the Man Utd ‘standard’

Ten Hag added: “It has to be the standard for Manchester United. It has to be normal but also you celebrate every win because you have to fight for it. We learnt from our lesson in Brentford.

“There is room for improvement but there was also some really good football. The last half an hour was a survival and there I think we can do better.

“There was not always pressure on the ball but [the defenders] stayed compact and were straight in the duals. I was comfortable they would deal with it. The finish [from Bruno Fernandes] was magnificent but the part before, it was a team goal. We built it up from the back and there were some more moments straight after half time where it was well played from the team. We have to improve in possession.

“The win against Liverpool gave us a lot of belief because we knew we could compete against one of the best teams in the world. Still at the start of the season it is really tough and hard work so everyone in the squad needs to be conscious of that.

Unsurprisingly, the United boss was asked about potential transfers, with the window shutting on Thursday.

“The transfer window… you don’t know what to expect,” Ten Hag said. “We will see.

“As Manchester United you always have to try do better so we can see if we can strengthen the squad, if not we will do with what we have got.

“We stick to the plan. If a good player is available we will strike. We will be alert until the last second of the window.”

Fernandes hails United team effort

Fernandes himself was extremely happy to claim the win, claiming the result was an all-round team effort.

“We knew it would be hard to come here. It’s always a tough experience here. This is the Premier League,” he told BT Sport. “It’s a massive three points here for us. It was massive for us to come here and win a second game. This is what it is like to play for this club. We won, we’re really happy.

“We have to carry on now!”

Asked about his strike, he added: “It was a great ball, great play from [Diogo] Dalot. When he dropped the ball, everything was perfect. This is why we work, I managed to find the space to finish. Well done to him and everyone.”

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