Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag said he could have taken off all his players at half-time after they were trailing 4-0 against Brentford.
It’s two matches, two losses so far for Ten Hag, the Dutchman who arrived from Ajax in a bold offseason appointment as United’s fifth manager in nine years and looked shell-shocked in the dug-out as the goals poured in at Brentford Community Stadium.
The Ten Hag made triple substitution at half-time, which saw him take off defenders Lisandro Martinez and Luke Shaw alongside Fred, Ten Hag said: “I changed three, but I could have changed them all. We wanted to bring some fresh energy in the game, there was nothing specific to the ones we subbed because I don’t think it’s all to them.”
“It’s naive, how we played today, you have to play more direct. We said: invite them in [to press] and play long. We attracted them, the space was high on the pitch and we had to choose that option. That’s what we couldn’t do. It’s no good, definitely. That’s not the standard on how we want to act.
There were so many individual mistakes — goalkeeper David de Gea let a weak shot dribble underneath him for the first goal, Christian Eriksen was tackled inside his own box prior to the second, and Brentford had two free headers at a corner for the third — that Ten Hag probably wanted to change most of his team at halftime.
“You can have a plan, but we put the plan in the bin. It’s nothing to do with tactical – the first two goals. It’s about dealing with the ball. That’s one. And two, decisions,” he said.
“They followed my instructions but they made bad decisions. That’s football, it’s a game of mistakes and we got punished.”
“I think Brentford were more hungry, one, and two, we concede goals through individual mistakes, and you can have a good plan but then put the plan in the bin,” he added.
The manager was highly critical of his team’s performance but he took the responsibility as well.
“Don’t get me wrong, the manager is responsible as well, he has the main responsibility, and I take that. And I will work on that. I have to give them belief, but they have to give it by themselves,” he said.