On Monday night, Manchester United defeated Liverpool in a decisive victory, their first three-point performance in the Premier League under new manager, Erik Ten Hag.
After a challenging beginning, there is suddenly a blueprint for this squad, and there is hope that it can provide a path to success.
Erik ten Hag praised the “fighting spirit” his Manchester United players displayed in defeating their bitter rivals, Liverpool.
After leading United to a 2-1 victory over Jurgen Klopp’s team at Old Trafford, Ten Hag said his players had demonstrated their potential.
After consecutive losses to Brentford and Brighton, the latter of which was a humiliating 4-0 loss, Ten Hag benched captain Harry Maguire and star player Cristiano Ronaldo. Both decisions proved to be correct.
Ten Hag said, “I’m incredibly satisfied and happy. We wanted a fresh strategy, and we got it.
In and outside of possession, I want to witness combat. That was evident all across the field today. We still have a ways to go.
You must deal with both the good points and the low points while we work through this. We simply got going.
There is a lot of room for development. But I do hope the athletes realize that a fighting spirit is always the foundation.”
When asked why he decided to bench Ronaldo and Maguire, Ten Hag responded:
“We have a roster and a way of playing, a style, but also a game plan, so you look at what the best approach is, and that is what we did today.
And we need the team because we have a lot of games to cover and Saturday could be different.
We stick together as a team and are very productive. Everyone is required to perform, including the management.
You have duties to the team and the supporters. This is a huge club with a sizable fan base, and we have to satisfy that.
Each member of our team must act as a cohesive unit, giving their daily best. That is the expectation of both the team and the manager.”
The United manager responded when asked if Ronaldo, at the age of 37, could adjust to Ten Hag’s pressing style of play:
“I think he can, and in his whole career, and under several managers, he did. He constantly performed in a variety of settings and genres.
Age is not a factor here. When you are young, you are competent, and when you are older but can still perform, you are competent as well.”
The players’ determination and camaraderie stood out during the tense finish as the home crowd yelled for the referee to blow the whistle.
This ought to be the norm going forward rather than merely a response to a gathering issue or the visit of one of their rivals.