Erik ten Hag revealed his dressing room message to his Manchester United players after their ‘unacceptable’ loss of focus in the second half of their pre-season friendly against Aston Villa.
The Red Devils looked well on course to record a fourth straight win under their new manager when they led at the break thanks to Jadon Sancho’s volley following a well constructed move and Matty Cash’s own goal.
United mastered the treacherous conditions which threatened the abandonment of the game in Perth during the opening 45 minutes, but lacked cohesion after the interval following a raft of changes.
Leon Bailey brought Villa back into the contest with superb individual goal and Steven Gerrard’s side earned a deserved draw when Calum Chambers headed home the equaliser with the last touch of the game, benefiting from some weak David de Gea goalkeeping.
Although he was hugely encouraged by United’s first half display, Ten Hag was unhappy with what he witnessed after the break and let his players know as much afterwards.
Asked if he saw a lack of intensity in the second half, Ten Hag said: ‘That’s what I just said in the dressing room, a drop of focus is unacceptable but to the season I’m happy because now I can tell them it cannot happen.
‘We have to get out of the dressing room and back in your plan and your focus and back to your performance and that is what we didn’t do.
‘We had a lot of movement behind the defending line, scored two great goals so we were 2-0 up at half time, and then our focus dropped.
‘It can be that the guys are tired but that’s not an excuse. They have to perform and it is what we didn’t do in the second half.’
After a torrential downpour, the referee gave the go-ahead following a pitch inspection but Ten Hag was in no mood to blame his side’s surrender on the less than ideal playing surface.
‘It was the focus. I don’t want to make excuses about the pitch or weather. No matter what, we have to perform,’ he added.
‘Football is a sport of mistakes and we have to decrease the mistakes. That’s clear, but I have seen a lot of progress in these two weeks.
‘In the first half I saw really good football, really controlling and dominating the game, but we have to learn from what happened in the second half. It’s not possible that you go 2-0 and then throw it away.’
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