Speaking in his post match press conference, Ten Hag identified his team’s poor conversion and subsequent lapses of concentration as the key factors in their 0-2 loss against West Ham United on Saturday.
"“I think we control the game, didn’t give West Ham United anything. We created three good chances, we didn’t take them. One moment of switching off and we are down, we are losing the game. I think that is how I see the performance.”"- Ten Hag on performance
United were largely in control prior to conceding their first goal as chances fell to Garnacho (twice) and Mainoo to open the scoring. Perhaps more concerning for Ten Hag may be that those chances ceased after United went down a goal and West Ham raised their level of play.
However, Ten Hag stressed that he did retain faith in his team and their abilities to turn things around, especially once key players return from injuries. Christian Eriksen was the first that returned after coming off the bench on Saturday.
"“As I said before, we have players who can do it, they proved it in the past they can do it but we also have to acknowledge the facts that we didn’t do as a team and we have to take responsibility and of course, football is about winning games and is about scoring goals."
"We had many setbacks and injuries but the players on the pitch are good enough to win the game so it is also about get into the box, make sure you are there, make sure you have the willingness to arrive there and the willingness to be clinical and score a goal. They are capable.”"- Ten Hag’s verdict
With an overperforming Aston Villa team paying Old Trafford a visit in the next few days, Ten Hag will hope that his misfiring team can find their sight in front of goal sooner rather than later. Boxing Day could provide the final knockout of Ten Hag’s tenure if this abysmal run of form continues.
Red Devil Armada’s verdict:
Ten Hag was correct in identifying that his side should have taken their chances which would have resulted in a different game, but questions persist around Ten Hag’s decisions in persisting with McTominay in midfield and Antony on the wing after both put in anonymous performances. The lack of direct service from the wingers to Højlund, who is yet to score in the Oremier League, is something which has not been addressed despite many concerns around it for a while now.
That is now 8 defeats in the league before Christmas and sooner or later, the excuses and hypotheticals will only protect the manager’s position for so long. Perhaps the goodwill he built up last season has been well and truly used up in time for Christmas.