Ten Hag lays down the law over ‘unacceptable’ Man Utd start but thankful for return of ‘magnificent’ forgotten man

Erik ten Hag, Marcel Sabitzer Man Utd v Leeds

Erik ten Hag was unhappy with the ‘unacceptable’ start Manchester United made against Leeds but praised his side’s fight and one player in particular following the 2-2 draw at Old Trafford.

Substitute Jadon Sancho secured the Red Devils a hard-fought draw against managerless Leeds to deny the visitors a famous first league win at Old Trafford in 42 years.

The relegation-threatened Whites sacked Jesse Marsch on Monday and caretaker replacement Michael Skubala was on course to mastermind an unforgettable victory two days later.

Wilfried Gnonto fired the visitors ahead after 55 seconds and Raphael Varane turned into his own goal early in the second half as Leeds dreamt of a first league win at Old Trafford since February 1981.

But Ten Hag’s United are made of stern stuff and rallied impressively, with Marcus Rashford’s header followed by substitute Sancho’s first goal since September in a thrilling 2-2 draw.

Illan Meslier superbly stopped Varane scoring a winner at the end of a rip-roaring tussle that adds excitement ahead of Sunday’s return fixture at a bouncing Elland Road.

And speaking after the game, Ten Hag told Match of the Day: “Mixed feelings. Of course in the end we were happy to win a point – but we dropped two points.

“It’s a very bad start, unacceptable, especially in a derby you have to be ready to battle and take responsibility. We didn’t do that.”

United not surprised by Leeds approach

Asked if the quick start from Leeds surprised his players, Ten Hag replied: “It looked like it but not me. [We knew] they will go aggressive, front foot, against a team on a good run they’ll try to get into duels and that’s what they did.

“We created great chances. Garnacho twice. Sabitzer. The header of Raphael. At half-time we had to equalise. If you start the second half the same as the first half you make it really difficult.

“I have to complement the team and resilience to fight back. We made two great team goals.

On bringing Sancho, Ten Hag added: “I wanted a different dynamic. In that moment we weren’t in the game. Luckily it succeeded because we scored two goals.

“Very happy. He’s all the way back. We know he’s a magnificent player. I think consistently he can have a big impact. But he has to work hard.

“It will motivate him to get more. I really enjoyed it, especially for him. It will strengthen him.

“If you play a derby you need a different attitude. You have to start and be ready and take responsibilty, win your battles and be composed on the ball.”

READ MORE: Man Utd, Arsenal both call Jorge Mendes with incredible Barcelona transfer taking shape