Erik ten Hag blasts Manchester United’s start as ‘unacceptable’ against Leeds
Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA
Erik ten Hag criticised his players for failing to be ready for the fight and lacking responsibility but praised the “brilliant” Jadon Sancho whose equaliser against Leeds sealed Manchester United’s comeback at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
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Leeds, led by caretaker Michael Skubala, scored inside the first minute of the opening half and the third of the second before Marcus Rashford and Sancho ensured the points were shared.
Ten Hag said: “When you start a derby like we did it’s unacceptable. You have to be ready to fight and we weren’t ready for the battle. It looked like it [his players were not ready] but not me. We knew they will go aggressive, front foot, against a team on a good run, they’ll try to get into duels and that’s what they did.
“I start my talk at half time with: ‘Guys we are not ready in the first half, make sure you are this time.’ And then we go out and concede again. I am disappointed we lose all the battles in the first minutes of each half.”
Sancho, who entered after the break, was making only a second appearance since October due to physical and mental wellbeing issues. “I am very happy,” Ten Hag said. “He’s all the way back. We know he’s a magnificent player. I think consistently he can have a big impact. But he has to work hard. It will motivate him to get more. I really enjoyed it, especially for him. It will strengthen him.
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“He is a brilliant footballer and if he can invest in the right levels he can be outstanding. We now have a team that can play in the opponent’s half, he likes that, he can play in tight areas.”
Leeds host Ten Hag’s team in Sunday’s return. Skubala does not know if he will be in charge then. “I’ve been really busy just looking after this job for the last few days,” he said. “That’s up to other people to decide. If I’m called upon then I just want to help the club in the best way I can.
“It’s a tough place to come. They have quality and haven’t lost in 13 games in all competitions. I’m disappointed we didn’t win but at the end of the day they were going to throw quality at us in the last moments. We needed to see the game out and I thought we did that well.”