In the fire Erik ten Hag believes that in order to save a season that looks like it could end badly, Manchester United must “stand up” and work “shoulder by shoulder.”
Two 3-0 home losses in the span of four days have put Old Trafford under intense scrutiny as the team experiences its worst start to a season since 1962–1963.
Newcastle’s easy victory in the rematch of the Carabao Cup final from February on Wednesday reinforced Sunday’s derby loss to rivals Manchester City.
With United having now lost eight of their 15 games in all competitions this season, it highlighted exactly how far things have gotten off course since the teams played at Wembley.
Manager Ten Hag declared, “We know that this is not good enough,” following goals from Joe Willock, Lewis Hall, and Miguel Almiron for Eddie Howe’s Magpies. “After playing the game for a while, we are giving it away in a few minutes.
“We must accept responsibility for this; we know that this is below our standards.”
Ten Hag is under increasing pressure barely 17 months after taking the role, as United’s performances have been just as concerning as the outcomes.
Bookmakers’ odds on him leaving have been slashed, but the defiant Dutchman said he was a “fighter” as United prepare for three key games before November’s international break.
Premier League matches away to Fulham and home to Luton bookend next Wednesday’s trip to Copenhagen as they attempt to keep their Champions League campaign alive.
Asked how he lifts everyone ahead of the Saturday lunchtime kick-off at Craven Cottage, Ten Hag told MUTV: “Yeah, but that is our job. We sleep and (Thursday) we have to go again, so we have to stand up.
“(Sticking together) is the only way, the only way we do it, shoulder by shoulder, then we will come through this.”
Ten Hag has repeatedly spoke about togetherness in recent weeks and has taken hope from the misfiring squad’s ability to get narrow victories over the line.
But players continue to underperform, both individually and collectively, and confidence appears to be an issue at United.
“Yeah, that’s normal,” Ten Hag said. “But you only get your confidence when you take responsibility, when you fight, starting from winning your battles, winning and dictating the ground on the pitch.
“When you do that, then you get results and from there on you build your own confidence.
“So, confidence is something that is in your own hands (as an) individual but of course you have to do it as a team.
“You have to stick together and you have to do it together.”
No players spoke to the media after United’s latest embarrassment at the hands of Newcastle, with the team booed at both half-time and the final whistle.
A number of supporters had made an exit before full-time, but on a night of understandable frustration there remained supportive chants from sections of the Old Trafford faithful.