Erik ten Hag has sent a warning to his Manchester United players to correct their mistakes before the start of the new Premier League, following their pre-season draw with Aston Villa.
The Red Devils gave up a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with Steven Gerrard’s side in Australia, in a second-half performance that Ten Hag described as “unacceptable”.
United continued their impressive pre-season form with a dominant first-half performance, with a volley from Jadon Sancho and an own goal from Matty Cash – deflecting Marcus Rashford’s shot into his own net – giving them a good progress.
But there was a marked drop in pace after the break as rain began to fall in soggy Perth, and Villa took advantage of it.
But just like the January encounter between these sides in the Premier League, Gerrard’s Villa roared as Leon Bailey’s fine solo goal was added by Calum Chambers’ stoppage-time header, ruining the perfect record of United’s pre-season.
Ten Hag admitted the result wasn’t a disaster, it’s only pre-season after all and overall Man United looked fit, spirited and ready for a new era in their wins over Liverpool , Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace, where they plundered 11 goals.
But he warned his players to make inquiries ahead of their home league opener against Brighton on August 7, saying it was inexcusable to leave a two-goal lead.
“In our team it was clear there was a decline,” said United boss Ten Hag. “Really good first half. I think we controlled the game, good football, good change of game.
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“We had a lot of movement behind the defensive line, scored some great goals and led 2-0 at halftime. Then a drop in concentration. The guys may be tired but that’s never an excuse.
“They have to perform and that’s what we didn’t do in the second half. But the first half is really good.
“That was the goal. I don’t want to make excuses about the terrain or the weather. It doesn’t matter what we have to accomplish.
When asked if the late leveler could be good for the players as he points out that a slight drop in concentration can be costly, Ten Hag said: “That’s what we just said in the locker room.
“A drop in concentration is unacceptable, but for the season I’m happy because now I can tell them it can’t happen.
“You have to get out of the dressing room and you have to go back to your game plan, refocus on your focus and you have to go back to your performance and that’s what we haven’t done.”
The manager added of his team’s performance in the club’s last game of the Thailand and Australia tour: “Football is a sport of mistakes and we have to reduce mistakes. That’s clear.
“We will do that and I’ve seen a lot of progress in those two weeks. Again 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 is not possible that you give up 2-0.
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