Ten Hag outlines "next step" Man Utd must make as Red Devils close gap on rivals

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Ten Hag outlines "next step" Man Utd must make as Red Devils close gap on rivals
Ten Hag outlines "next step" Man Utd must make as Red Devils close gap on rivals

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has urged his team to make the "next step" by improving certain aspects of their game.

The Red Devils won a fourth consecutive Premier League fixture on Tuesday night by beating relegation candidates Bournemouth 3-0 at Old Trafford. Goals from Casemiro, Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford were enough to secure all three points for the hosts.

United's latest win leaves them fourth in the table - five points clear of Tottenham in fifth. They are also just one point behind local rivals Manchester City in second having played a game more, with Pep Guardiola's side travelling to Chelsea on Thursday night.

"That is the next step we have to make," Ten Hag told United's website after Tuesday night's convincing victory. "We are still in the process and we controlled the game in the first half but we didn't play brilliant. Not entertaining, but we made a good goal from a set-play and then, straight after half-time, a really good counter, it was a good goal.

"We have to play clever and keep compact, let them run and the spaces will come because, as they take risks, you will have counter chances."

Marcel Sabitzer completes Man Utd transfer after last-minute deadline day dash rriqudirriezinvMarcel Sabitzer completes Man Utd transfer after last-minute deadline day dash

Ten Hag also urged his players to be compact during his post-match press conference, as Bournemouth forced David de Gea into four saves. He told reporters: "We ended up with two departments, one attacking and one defending, with a big gap in-between.

Ten Hag outlines "next step" Man Utd must make as Red Devils close gap on rivalsErik ten Hag expects more from his team (Getty Images)

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"It cost a lot of energy and you get a tennis match. We don't want to play tennis; we want to play football. [Let's] Keep the ball and recognise when to speed up."

United's position in the table marks a significant turnaround from last season, when they finished sixth in the Premier League and failed to win silverware for a fifth consecutive term. They also saw the back of two managers in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick.

There's a good chance United could finally end their trophy drought this season, as they've reached the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup and will take Charlton at Old Trafford on Tuesday. Their FA Cup campaign starts at home to Everton four days earlier.

United are also going well in Europe. They've reached the play-off round of the Europa League - where they'll take on Barcelona over two legs - and will be regarded among the favourites to win that tournament if they can overcome the Catalan giants.

One of Ten Hag's biggest achievements at Old Trafford is improving the attitude of the squad. Rashford was dropped for the win against Wolves for being late to a team meeting, Cristiano Ronaldo was shown the door for criticising his manager in a sensational interview with Piers Morgan and there are fewer stories being leaked to the press.

Shaw said after the Wolves victory: "Maybe that’s been part of the problem in the past, with people getting away with silly little things, but the manager takes that into consideration. You see today, if you’re not keeping the standards high, then you won’t play."

Tom Blow

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15.07.2024, 17:44 • Investigation