Exasperated Erik ten Hag admitted Manchester United are not good enough to play on a high level consistently after Bournemouth made history with their first-ever Old Trafford win.
This has been a challenging second season in the dugout for the Dutchman, whose side collapsed in humiliating fashion just three days after impressively beating Chelsea.
Star man Dominic Solanke put Bournemouth ahead after five minutes on Saturday, with Philip Billing and Marcos Senesi headers securing a 3-0 Premier League triumph that could have been worse for United.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 9, 2023
Andoni Iraola’s ever-improving side became the first Cherries team ever to win at Old Trafford, where the hosts were booed having been outplayed and outfought in embarrassing fashion.
“Of course, annoyed and disappointed, definitely,” United boss Ten Hag said. “I expected something different.
“I hoped before the game you can build on the performance and result from Chelsea, so then it’s very disappointing.
“That (consistency) is of course the question, but I think we have to always be ready for the game, so I have to take the responsibility for that.
“I have to prepare my team so that they are ready for the game, so from my point of view I’m very disappointed the way we started so I have to do the things better.”
Ten Hag shouldered much of the responsibility after this season’s 11th defeat in all competitions, with United’s slow starts and knack at conceding costing them once more.
“We are really inconsistent,” the Dutchman said. “We have the abilities to do it, but you have to do it every game and every third day.”
Asked if consistency was key to being an elite team, Ten Hag added: “I think as a squad we are not good enough to be consistent and we have to work as a squad to improve that.”
It was an eye-catching remark at the end of a week that began with reports that some United players had grown unhappy with the manager.
A key Champions League match against Bayern Munich and Premier League trip to rivals Liverpool now follows for a Jekyll and Hyde team incapable of performing reliably.
“As a group, we have to improve,” Ten Hag said. “That’s a fact. We have to get tougher, that we are ready for the game and from the start.
“I said on Friday, it can’t be in this league that you are not playing on the highest levels because you get killed.
“That’s what happened in the five minutes and then you are following facts and especially against them, such a good transition team, you make life easy for them. They have the perfect conditions to play in.
“Then you see the team fighting, battling, put a lot of effort in for a long period to return in the game, but it can’t happen that you so easily concede a goal.”
United will dominate the post-match discussion but this was Bournemouth’s day having achieved one of the greatest results in club history.
Iraola and his players were serenaded after a famous win that underlines just how far the Cherries have come this term.
“I feel it was really great, obviously,” summer appointment Iraola said. “Today we had a really good performance.
— Premier League (@premierleague) December 9, 2023
“I think the team suffered when they had to suffer. We defended really well and we knew that probably in transitions we would have our chances and we took them.”
Asked how this win compared to his victories as Rayo Vallecano boss at Real Madrid and Barcelona, the Cherries manager said: “It’s a difficult comparison. I don’t know.
“It is probably the best result in England. I think it’s nice to win in this kind of a stadium with this kind of performance.
“But you look it’s 3-0, we could even have scored the fourth one.
“But we’ve had moments to suffer also in the first half because they were more on the ball, we were defending quite well.
“But with the quality of the players they have, you never know when they can make the difference.
“I think for us was the key to defend well and then to be dangerous in transitions.”
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