Erik ten Hag emphasised the crucial importance of netting the initial goal, a lesson made clear in Manchester United’s 2-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur away.
The Dutch tactician maintained his squad from the previous match, and they stepped up, delivering a better display than they did on Monday evening when they narrowly edged past Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 at Old Trafford. However, the failure to score during the opening half was detrimental, paving the way for Spurs to dominate post-interval and secure a complete win.
In the post-game discussions, questions flooded in for Ten Hag, touching on the goal drought, a turned-down penalty claim involving Cristian Romero, his cautioning on the sidelines, among other topics. For a comprehensive understanding of his responses, we delve into the main points he shared with Sky and BBC.
“It was a very good performance in the first half, except we have to score. We created good chances. We had a really good press on the ball. We had good stretches where we had many chances to score a goal and we deserved a penalty.”
“I don’t know why it wasn’t a penalty. It was absolutely a penalty. He (Cristian Romero) changed the direction of the ball and his blocking hand was wide, above. But okay, you have to accept it.”
SWITCHING OFF IS COSTLY
“We quickly had three bookings and that can’t happen. We have to stay focused. Then we switched off in that one attack, they had two big chances and they hit twice the barrier (woodwork). So that wasn’t good. And then the start of the second half was definitely not good. You have to stay on the front foot and it was totally unnecessary to concede that goal. We didn’t collapse, we fought back, but we didn’t score.”
MIDFIELD WAS FINE
“I think our midfield played well. Of course we can always do better, but when you gofor goal, you leave some spaces. But I think in the rest of it, in thedefensive transition, we were better.”
MOUNT IN A DEEPER ROLE
“He did well. I think we dominated Spurs totally the first half, especially in the midfield area, and that was in and out of possession. Mason played an important part in that.”
ONE GOAL IN TWO GAMES
“I’m not [worried] by the attacking play but by scoring. That is the same issue. We know that. That’s why we signed a striker.”
POSITIVES IN THE PERFORMANCE
“On Monday the performance was not good, but the result was there. Today the [performance] was okay but we had to win here and we didn’t do that. In the process we take the positives but we also know the meaning of the first goal. We had to keep the belief at the start of the second half, keep the focus, be on the front foot and don’t be so passive in the moment when they scored the goal. It was totally unnecessary and that I think that changed the game.”
SCORE FIRST, IT’S OUR GAME
“When you lose, it’s never good and then you always have to look in the mirror. We have to score that goal to quieten the crowd, quieten the opponent. I think it was so quiet in the stadium in the first half because we took away the game and they didn’t have the belief. When you score, I think the game is ours. It’s not about adding to the team [in the last two weeks of the transfer market], it’s about having to score goals.”
START TO THE SEASON
“We are disappointed today and first we have to look to ourselves. We had to score that first goal because we created the chances. And the meaning of the first goal is very important in every Premier League game.”