Ten Hag proud of Man Utd resilience in EFL Cup thriller

November 11, 2022


Erik ten Hag was proud of Manchester United’s resilience after the Red Devils twice came from behind to seal a frantic 4-2 win over Aston Villa in the EFL Cup on Thursday.

United were heading for a second consecutive third-round exit from the competition when Ollie Watkins opened the scoring at Old Trafford, and again when Diogo Dalot put through his own net after Anthony Martial equalised.

However, Marcus Rashford got United back on level terms before goals from Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay took the game away from Villa, helping the Red Devils into the fourth round.

Ten Hag hit out at an “unacceptable” performance when United fell to a 3-1 Premier League defeat to Villa on Sunday, but he was thrilled by Thursday’s comeback against the same opponents.

“Two halves are never the same, it’s true. First half, we controlled the game by good pressing, we won a lot of balls in the opponents’ half, but then did the wrong things,” he told Sky Sports shortly before United were drawn with Burnley in the fourth round.

“At half-time, we said, ‘keep the pressing but be more direct, pass the ball behind their defence’. Then we came back, we fought back.

“I’m really proud of the team that they could do that after Sunday’s defeat.

“I’m really happy with that resilience, that’s what we need to show every game, that’s why I was so disappointed – so mad – with the performance on Sunday.

“We didn’t fight, we didn’t cooperate, we were sloppy – especially in the defensive discipline, and a United player always has to show 100 per cent discipline.”

United travel to Fulham for their final Premier League game before the World Cup on Sunday, and Ten Hag says the extended break will allow for a better analysis of his team’s progress.

“Now we have a little more time, we can go a bit deeper, and we will see where we can improve. We will have a good reflection, definitely,” Ten Hag added.

“It’s a quick game, an intense game, and what we have to do better is to play football at a high intensity, that’s what the top teams do.

“I think we have made a step in the right direction, but on the ball, we can be more in control. There’s still a long way to go.”

Meanwhile, Rashford hit the net for the eighth time this season on the day he was named in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the World Cup, and the 25-year-old believes focusing on United has benefited him.

“For me, the focus is United. If you’re performing for United then England is always going to be around the corner,” Rashford said.

“I’m obviously really pleased to be back in the mix and back with the squad, and it’s going to be a massive month so I’m looking forward to that, but hopefully we can close this chapter off with a win on Sunday.”