Erik ten Hag names five reasons for Manchester United’s miserable start

Erik ten Hag sees injuries, individual form and a new partnership in central defense as the reasons behind Manchester United’s miserable start to the season after losing their opening two games.

United are one place below the bottom of the Premier League table ahead of Liverpool’s visit to Old Trafford on Monday night after being deservedly beaten by Brighton, Hove Albion and Brentford in Ten Hag’s first games in charge.

The former Ajax boss’ first few months in his new job have proved challenging as problems cropped up off the pitch as many as on it, even putting aside unrest among fans over Glazer family ownership.

Despite United agreeing a £60m deal for Casemiro with Real Madrid last week, Ten Hag has had to wait for the midfielder, who he says is missing from the squad, and is expected to be without his first-choice target, Frenkie, despite a long summer de Jong, make ends meet.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s future remains uncertain. The wanton five-time Ballon d’Or winner missed United’s pre-season tour due to family reasons, delaying his return to training, while Ten Hag’s alternative at centre-forward Anthony Martial suffered a hamstring injury.

And after conceding six goals in their first two games, Ten Hag believes David de Gea’s form and the unfamiliar partnership between Harry Maguire and Lisandro Martinez have contributed to United’s defensive glitches.

Ten Hag partly cited all of this as reasons for United’s poor start when previewing Liverpool’s visit during his pre-game press conference on Friday.

“We had a good basic preparation, [then] our nine martial injured, ‘Ronny’ not fit, the six in the midfield position not there. In the first game we had two central defenders who didn’t play together and the goalkeeper wasn’t the best time either.

“There’s a clear reason for this, but I know we’re going to fix that and the results will be better too,” he said. “That was already evident in the preparation.”

Ten Hag admitted United’s poor start didn’t particularly surprise him despite the cautious optimism of many at the club in the summer.

“I’ve already come to the conclusion that it might be [a poor start],” he said. “But you also see the potential of this team in the pre-season, so we have to work together now to bring the good performances back to the pitch.

Ten Hag also hinted he had seen a lack of leadership from his players in the two defeats but refused to single out captain Harry Maguire, who is under fire, instead revealing he expects a core group of players to set an example are.

“Often when the team attitude isn’t good, the leaders aren’t there because they’re the ones setting the example and leading the way. This is a point we need to work on.

“I always work with a group of leaders, not a specific one. I spoke to the people in charge about this topic. They don’t have to be experienced players, but we do have a core group that leads by example and takes responsibility.” Erik ten Hag names five reasons for Manchester United’s miserable start

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