Erik ten Hag says Manchester United exceeded expectations in his first year but admitted standards have dropped in the 2023/24 season after the 2-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest.
The Red Devils’ last game of 2023 ended in misery as Nuno Espirito Santo’s Forest struck twice in the second half to consign the visitors to their ninth Premier League defeat of the season.
Ten Hag was once again without key first-team stars like Lisandro Martinez, Harry Maguire, Mason Mount and Casemiro, while illness meant there was no place in the matchday squad for striker Rasmus Hojlund.
Speaking after the match, Ten Hag pointed to the success of 2022/23 and said he is confident of leading a revival of United’s fortunes.
Ten Hag said: “It is clear we are not consistent. Every time I say it doesn’t matter how we line up, we have to win, but the routines are not there because every time we have to swap. Football is quick, so you need communication in a split second. When the players are returning, I am sure this side will be stronger. I believe.
“They [Ineos] know me. They know when I have a squad available the results will be there. This is part of a project. We were over-performing last year, this year we are under-performing. We have to step up and I have to lead that process.
“No team can deal with so many issues and injuries we have.”
Ten Hag also insisted injuries have been a key issue that United have been unable to overcome so far this season. His side currently sit seventh in the Premier League, though could drop to ninth by the end of the gameweek if results elsewhere go against them, and have no European football to look forward to in 2024 after finishing bottom of their Champions League group.
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