Erik ten Hag has offered reason for Manchester United’s disappointing performance against Leeds and has expressed his excitement at Jadon Sancho’s return.
United dropped points in their pursuit of Champions League football with a 2-2 draw against Leeds in midweek, with the Red Devils forced to come back from two goals down to rescue a point at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag’s side face Leeds again in the Premier League this weekend and ahead of the clash the Dutchman has spoken of the difficulty in coping with his side’s absent stars. United were forced into changes down the right and in midfield given the absence of Antony, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Casemiro and Christian Eriksen and Ten Hag believes that a lack of ‘routines’ contributed to their poor performance at times.
“It is not easy, as you have to replace some players. The routines are not there and this is obvious,” he told his pre-match press conference.
“We had the combination over the last few weeks on the right with Aaron [Wan-Bissaka] and Antony. Now there is a new combination in the holding midfield position as we have to bring in a new position as Christian Eriksen is away. So the whole midfield construction is new and that takes time to bed in and get the routines again, this takes games and that was obvious [on Wednesay].
“We played quite well but both starts killed our game.”
Ten Hag discussed the satisfaction in helping the likes of Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford re-discover their best form. Rashford moved to 20 goals in all competitions this season in midweek, whiile Sancho came off the bench to equalise against Leeds as the winger steps up his return from a period of individual training.
“That makes this job so exciting,” he said. “It is wonderful to work with young people and get the best out of them.
“Finally, they have to do it by themselves but often they need motivation, they need a push sometimes. Sometimes they need an interjection and also inspiration of a plan.”
Ten Hag issued an update on his squad and confirmed that United will again be without Antony, Scott McTominay and Anthony Martial for the trip to Elland Road.
“The last I don’t expect but we have some days obviously, but I don’t expect it. If I can oversee it from now, I don’t see any new problems coming up.”
Asked if the trio could return in time to face Bareclona on Thursday, Ten Hag added: “The same answer. I can’t say 100 per cent, but I don’t expect it.”
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