Erik ten Hag praises Man Utd’s fighting spirit after defeating rivals Liverpool

Erik ten Hag turned the air blue as he hailed Manchester United’s fighting spirit after Monday’s stunning win over rivals Liverpool.

United bounced back from back-to-back – and humiliating – defeats early in their Premier League season, beating their closest rivals 2-1 at Old Trafford.

On his first competitive win as United boss, Ten Hag told Sky Sports: “Now you see we’re bringing attitude to the pitch and there was communication, fighting spirit and a team and you can see what they can achieve because they’re damn good can play football.”

United have drawn much criticism since losing 4-0 at Brentford last week but against Liverpool they looked like a different team from the start, winning with goals in every half from Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford.

Mohamed Salah pulled one back late but the hosts – on a night when protests against the club’s owners, the Glazers, were being amplified by fans – persevered.

Ten Hag said: “I’m really happy and satisfied. We wanted a different approach and that’s what we got.

“Brentford wasn’t the way I want to play football. I want to see a team, I want to see players fighting. You have to be brave in and out of possession and I think we saw that all over the pitch today.

“But we still have a long way to go. When you are in a process you have to deal with setbacks, but you also have high points and today was a high point.”

Ten Hag made two powerful selection decisions by leaving Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire out of his starting line-up.

The Dutchman said: “We have a squad and we have a way of playing, a style and a game plan. They look at what is the best approach to the game.

“We did that today and we will do it in every game. Today it was these players, Saturday it could be different.”

Ten Hag insists Ronaldo can fit into his plans.

He said: “I think he can. Throughout his career he has done it under multiple managers, in different styles and systems. He was always performing, so why can’t he do that? His age doesn’t matter.”

The result moved United ahead of Liverpool in the table and exacerbated the Merseysiders’ frustrating start to the season.

Last season’s runners-up have just two points from their first three games.

Manager Jürgen Klopp said: “I’m very disappointed with the result.

“It’s a game where everything was clear about what United were going to do. Were they more aggressive than us at the beginning? Probably yes.

“It was exactly the game United wanted to play. It’s our fault, you could say.

“But until the last pass or the final decision, we played how we should have played. We had a lot of moments in the box.

“We scored a goal that was totally deserved, but it was a bit late. We could have won the game tonight if we had played a little better.”

Klopp insisted he was not worried about any underlying issues that could hamper his players and tried to divert attention from a lively on-pitch discussion between James Milner and Virgil Van Dijk.

“There was a dispute on the pitch but we don’t have any problems in the team,” he added.

“No one is happy when you lose a game. This is perfectly normal. This is not an excuse. Everything is fine in this department.” Erik ten Hag praises Man Utd’s fighting spirit after defeating rivals Liverpool

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