Erik ten Hag responds to his critics following Manchester United’s resurgence in form, leading them to defeat Chelsea.

After Manchester United’s convincing 2-1 victory over Chelsea at Old Trafford, Erik ten Hag, the team’s manager, highlighted the solidarity among his players. This triumph not only boosted United’s position to the top six of the Premier League but also dispelled earlier speculations of player discontent and resistance towards Ten Hag’s approach. Despite a lackluster performance against Newcastle, United, under the leadership of Scott McTominay, displayed an entirely transformed demeanor as they controlled the game entirely and achieved their first victory of the season against a formidable opponent. In an interview with the BBC, Ten Hag shared his contentment with both the outcome and the team’s display, affirming, “We have earned this victory. Our intention was to convey this message to the audience, which perfectly aligns with our approach. During the initial half-hour, we executed it flawlessly on the field.”

Addressing the rumors surrounding his players’ discontent, Ten Hag disregarded the commotion, stating, “I pay no attention to the commotion. They are accustomed to it. It was a similar situation at Ajax, albeit in a smaller nation with fewer individuals.” Before the game, the significant news revolved around Marcus Rashford being left out of the team, which attracted criticism due to his underwhelming performance against Newcastle. Nevertheless, Ten Hag clarified that Rashford’s absence was merely a result of his rotational strategy due to the demanding schedule. Additionally, Anthony Martial was also excluded from the starting lineup, and this choice appeared to be successful as United began the match with a strong performance.

In the 19th minute, United’s initial control of the game paid off when McTominay scored from the rebound after Harry Maguire’s shot had been blocked. In spite of their superiority, United was unable to convert a higher number of opportunities, allowing Chelsea to level the score just before halftime with an outstanding goal from Cole Palmer.

Nevertheless, United did not allow this setback to discourage them, and they emerged in the second half with an aggressive approach. McTominay, once again, showcased his talent by scoring his second goal of the evening with a header in the 69th minute. This turned out to be the crucial moment in the game, ensuring victory for United and narrowing the gap to league leaders Manchester City by two points. Ten Hag admitted that there were areas that still needed improvement, expressing that it was avoidable to let in that goal. He acknowledged that there are still strides to be taken, but affirmed that the team is heading in the correct direction. He believes that this team and project will ultimately be successful. When a team is not performing at their peak, they are vulnerable to defeat. It is essential to bring out your best performance every time. If not, you will suffer the consequences. The team is aware of this and must approach every game with the right mentality.

Following that, Manchester United will confront Bournemouth in the Premier League, followed by a crucial encounter against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League at Old Trafford. However, Chelsea’s season has suffered from a lack of consistency. Despite defeating Brighton in their previous game, they failed to secure consecutive league wins for only the second time since Mauricio Pochettino took charge in the summer.

Pochettino acknowledged that his players appeared fatigued at both the beginning and end of the match, but he had no complaints about the outcome. He admitted, “The opposing team deserved the victory. It was challenging at the start as they displayed immense energy. We had enough opportunities to stay in the game. We started the second half strongly, but then we conceded, making it difficult. We must recover all our players and raise our performance level. It’s a highly competitive period, and we require players to contribute and find solutions to enhance our standard.”

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