Erik ten Hag has warned Manchester United’s stars to take responsibility after slamming them for failing to run enough in their dismal defeat against Tottenham Hotspur.
Ten Hag was furious with the way his side allowed themselves to be swept away by Tottenham’s high-tempo performance in the second half of last weekend’s 2-0 loss.
It was a second successive lacklustre display from United after a barely-deserved 1-0 win against Wolves in its Premier League season opener.
“It’s not about the midfield. It was about the back and the front. That’s why we were open,” Ten Hag said.
Questioned on exactly why United was so lethargic, the United manager added, “They didn’t run, or they ran in the wrong moment, too late, especially the front, didn’t recover.
“It happened, you can’t turn it around. But it’s a demand here if you want to win games.
“First 35 minutes, we were so good and we dominated the game totally. We should have scored a minimum of once, but I think two.
“They were nowhere, nothing, and then things happened in the game and they got distracted, not doing their jobs anymore.
“I am not used to it from this team because they always do it. The demand for Manchester United is you do it 90 minutes and you do it every game, no matter what.”
Ten Hag has demanded a bounce-back performance against Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford on Saturday.
“I told them, I gave them the feedback that this is not acceptable,” the Dutchman said.
“We have to work as a team, we have to do it with togetherness. Every individual has to take responsibility.”
Asked if they are big enough to take that responsibility and accept criticism, the United boss said, “Oh, yes. We are in the same boat. I am responsible for it, as well.
“We have to do that in togetherness and we have to face the first two games were not good enough, but still one we won.”
Ten Hag backed Bruno Fernandes after the United captain came in for criticism after the Tottenham game, with the midfielder’s appeals for a first-half penalty and comments about the decision afterwards widely derided.
“Of course, I back him and I think he has also to make his point,” Ten Hag said. “It’s justified and it was a clear penalty, so then you can express it.
“But also don’t get distracted by it. You have to keep focusing on your job.
“He’s an inspiration, he’s an example for the team, he has the personality, so he’s a very good captain.”