Erik ten Hag: Man Utd players were not ready for Europa League quarter-final | ‘Seville had more desire’
Erik ten Hag slammed the attitude of his Manchester United players after they were beaten 3-0 and 5-2 on aggregate at Sevilla in the Europa League quarter-finals.
Man Utd had blown a 2-0 lead in the final minutes of the first leg at Old Trafford last week and quickly fell behind in the south of Spain after David De Gea and Harry Maguire combined to give the hosts the lead in the tie.
There was a further mistake from De Gea in the second half as Sevilla went on to win convincingly against the lackluster visitors and afterwards Man Utd head coach Ten Hag was critical of the application he’d seen from his players.
“It’s clear when we make such mistakes, it’s very difficult to win a football game,” Ten Hag told BT Sports.
“It’s obvious [the atmosphere may have had an impact] but it can’t be. The fans can expect that we can deal with it. I won’t say that’s an explanation for it.
“We weren’t composed, we weren’t calm. Once you beat the press there are huge spaces on the pitch but we didn’t do it at the start. It was so obvious how to do it.
“Bad decisions. And also we lose the battles. They had more passion, more desire, more willingness. For example the second goal. Then it’s difficult to win big football games.
“We showed on so many occasions good performances and good wins. But tonight and some occasions more, we were not ready for the game and it can’t be. When you’re at this level and playing for Man Utd you have to be ready for every game.
“This is a great opportunity, a great occasion, a quarter-final in Europe to win something and then you give it away. We have to blame ourselves.”
This was the second time this season Man Utd had made two errors leading directly to an opposition goal in the same match, with the other occasion coming in the 4-0 defeat to Brentford at the start of the season.
Ten Hag – who has also seen his team lose 6-3 in a Manchester derby and 7-0 to rivals Liverpool this season – admitted there is an issue within his team with individual mistakes.
“It’s a problem,” he said. “We can’t run away from it. But on Sunday [in the FA Cup semi-final with Brighton] we have another opportunity to work on that. We have to step up and show more character, personality.
“It’s not about [the players who are missing]. It’s about the players who are on the pitch. They have to perform. I believe in them, trust them and they have to show. Today we weren’t good enough.”
When asked about De Gea’s long-term future as Man Utd’s No1 goalkeeper following the performance, Ten Hag backed the Spaniard in his post-match press conference.
“He’s the one with the most clean sheets in the Premier League, so that shows he’s a very capable goalkeeper,” said the Man Utd head coach.
Analysis: ‘Sevilla dominated Man Utd in every department’
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player
Terry Gibson on Sky Sports News:
“The first goal was after seven minutes and it could have been two by then. You’re thinking this is a shaky start by Man Utd.
“Players are missing but there’s no excuse for the way they’ve performed tonight.
“Sevilla have totally dominated Man Utd in every department on the pitch.
“Do you remember at the beginning of the season when they lost 4-0 at Brentford and Ten Hag gave them a running session because of the ground they hadn’t covered in the match? That might be needed again. They’ve been second best.
“In terms of attitude: No urgency. They’ve been out-fought by Sevilla who clearly showed more desire.”
Europa League specialist Sevilla strike again – Opta stats
- Since the competition’s rebranding in 2009-10, Sevilla have made the semi-final of the UEFA Europa League on more occasions than any other side (5). On the previous four occasions they’ve reached the semi-finals they’ve gone on to win the competition (2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16 & 2019-20).
- Manchester United have won none of their five games against Sevilla in major European competition (D2 L3), the most they’ve faced a side without ever winning in their European history.
- For a sixth successive season, Manchester United have been eliminated from a European knockout tie by Spanish opposition – with three of those coming against Sevilla (2017-18, 2019-20 & 2022-23).
- This is the first time Manchester United have been eliminated at the quarter-final stages of the UEFA Europa League, having progressed from each of their three such ties before today.