Erik ten Hag slammed his Manchester United players for being dumb and said their performance was unacceptable as they were thrashed by Aston Villa.
Ten Hag returned the armband to Cristiano Ronaldo just two weeks after removing him from the squad, only to see his club suffer their first defeat in six league games, keeping them outside the top four.
‘It was a horrible performance overall,’ remarked the Dutchman. ‘When we’re at our best, we’re on the front foot and ready to play.’ We were not, and we did not deserve any more than what we received.
‘We didn’t defend according to the regulations, and we lost our battles.’ We would have won this game if the players had done their jobs with 100% drive and passion.
‘I’ve been in football for a long time, and players are not machines.’ This is sometimes the case; it’s psychological, but it’s not acceptable. We must be prepared for every game and not give up so readily.
‘It was ridiculous to try to cross the ball so rapidly and from so far out, with so much energy.’ We must cross at the appropriate time. We were too quick to cross in the second half.’
Early goals from Leon Bailey and Lucas Digne put United on the back foot, and despite Luke Shaw’s deflected strike just before halftime, Jacob Ramsey restored Villa’s two-goal lead shortly after the break.
‘We lost the game at the start of the first and second halves, which is unacceptable,’ ten Hag told Match of the Day. ‘They appeared more fresh and prepared. We need to be more focused. The outcome is crystal clear. It never tells the truth. We weren’t good enough today.
‘We did not choose the right organization. At 2-1, we created chances and good chances. But you must be frustrated to surrender so early in the second half.’
Furthermore, ten Hag told Sky Sports after the game, ‘It’s not acceptable that you surrender a goal on the counter so fast in the second half.’ Our athletes have prior experience. You must read the game and organize it correctly. Not giving up two goals so early in the game is completely unwarranted.
Ronaldo captained the squad less than a month after walking out during a match against Tottenham Hotspur after refusing to come on as a substitute.
Meanwhile, Shaw started the first 65 minutes of United’s defeat at Villa Park before being substituted by Tyrell Malacia as the hosts welcomed new manager Unai Emery to the bench.
Shaw, 27, said Match of the Day after the game, ‘We knew they were coming out with a new management and a new feeling.’ We were expecting it. However, in games like these, if you start slowly in the first 20 minutes, you will lose.
‘We were inadequate.’ We must always think that we can win games even when we are 2-0 down. We conceded early in the second half, and the road ahead is steep.