Erik ten Hag feels he cannot call out his underperforming Manchester United stars for fears they will not be able to handle his criticism.
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United’s 3-2 defeat to Galatasaray on Tuesday was their second defeat at home in four days, the latest setback in a disastrous start to the new season.
Their record of six defeats in their opening 10 games in all competition marks their worst start to a campaign since Sir Alex Ferguson replaced Ron Atkinson 37 years ago. They already face an uphill task in reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League after two defeats in two and are already nine points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City.
United have been unable to maintain any sort of control in games after going ahead this season, conceding within minutes of finding the back of the net against Galatasaray on two occasions. It was a similar story in games against Bayern Munich and Arsenal with questions being asked of the mental strength of the United squad once again.
ESPN report ten Hag shares those concerns but fears he cannot be as harsh in his criticism as he would like due to fears over the ‘mental fragility’ of the squad.
Ten Hag is also thought to have raised concerns over his players having the right body language after suffering setbacks in games. The United boss is said to be ‘increasingly frustrated’ with that message failing to get through to certain members of the squad.
The United board remain fully behind ten Hag with recent reports claiming the players remain in support of their manager.
At the final whistle on Tuesday, there were boos from the Old Trafford crowd just as there were following the 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday.
United are at home again on Saturday to take on Brentford, who themselves have only won one game this season, with ten Hag hoping fan frustration can fuel his side to turn things around.
‘Yes I can understand. They can expect, I am responsible for this team, for the performance, for the result – together with my squad,’ ten Hag said.
‘In this moment we don’t get the results and they are then disappointed, I can understand that. Yeah, we have to do better.
‘But, as I said, I have seen a team with a great spirit. And also, a team that was backed by the crowd from the start until the end. Of course, in the end the fans are disappointed just as we are. We are very disappointed.
‘But also that has to be fuel. That is the good thing about this team, every time they find the energy in every game, in every start of a game, there has been a team with a lot of energy, with a good motivation to go into the game.’
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