Ten Hag: ‘Room for improvement’ for United; Hasenhuttl baffled by triple handball decision

·4-min read
Ralph Erik ten Hag and Steve McClaren on the touchline Credit: PA Images
Ralph Erik ten Hag and Steve McClaren on the touchline Credit: PA Images

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag was a happy man after his side ‘survived’ the last half an hour to see off Southampton in the south-coast sunshine.

United edged past their hosts thanks to a tidy Bruno Fernandes finish in the second half.

Post-goal panic shows Ten Hag just how much has to be done at Manchester United

It was a close encounter and Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl insists he did not see much of a difference between the two sides.

“It doesn’t feel good because we deserved more today,” the Austrian told Match of the Day.

“I think we had more chances and more shots on goal. In the end we gave them one or two situations in the second half and they scored one beautiful goal. We didn’t manage to score and that was the difference today.

“Over the whole 90 minutes we tried really hard to put them under pressure. In the second half we tried a lot. Sometimes football’s like this – the ball doesn’t want to go in the back of the net. Today was one of those days.

“We’ve spent on five players the amount that Man Utd has spent on one player. That’s the way we have to go. I didn’t see much difference between the two teams today.

“We’ll definitely see some moves, in or out, in the next few days.”

Saints will feel aggrieved they were not awarded a penalty after United midfielder Scott McTominay showed off his juggling skills in his own box.

Hasenhuttl was not a happy bunny, saying: “It was not one handball – it was three times. When this isn’t handball, what should I say?”

Ten Hag, meanwhile, insists there is plenty to improve on after his side ‘survived’ a late onslaught from Southampton, but was high in praise of goalscorer Fernandes.

“I think the players learnt some lessons from Brentford,” the Dutchman said. “We were more compact on the long balls.

“Of course we were really happy. The goal we created, we could have made more. You hope to have more control in the last 30 minutes of the game.

“Before half time we already had the best chance of the game. I was satisfied. At the start of the game we could have created more.

“It is the start of the season, it is tough. You have to battle and we did that today so we were rewarded.

“It was a fantastic finish. I am really happy for Bruno [Fernandes]. But I think it was the best part of us. We kept control straight after half-time. We moved it around and we created three really good chances straight after half time and that is how I want us to play.

“I still feel there is room for improvement, to control more, but we are not that long in our way. We can improve that is clear.”

Ten Hag added: “It has to be the standard for Manchester United. It has to be normal but also you celebrate every win because you have to fight for it. We learnt from our lesson in Brentford.

“There is room for improvement but there was also some really good football. The last half an hour was a survival and there I think we can do better.

“There was not always pressure on the ball but [the defenders] stayed compact and were straight in the duals. I was comfortable they would deal with it. The finish [from Bruno Fernandes] was magnificent but the part before, it was a team goal. We built it up from the back and there were some more moments straight after half time where it was well played from the team. We have to improve in possession.

“The win against Liverpool gave us a lot of belief because we knew we could compete against one of the best teams in the world. Still at the start of the season it is really tough and hard work so everyone in the squad needs to be conscious of that.

Unsurprisingly, the United boss was asked about potential transfers, with the summer window slamming shut next week.

“The transfer window… you don’t know what to expect,” Ten Hag said. “We will see.

“As Manchester United you always have to try do better so we can see if we can strengthen the squad, if not we will do with what we have got.

“We stick to the plan. If a good player is available we will strike. We will be alert until the last second of the window.”

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