Erik ten Hag: ‘It Is Like Swimming With Your Hands Tied Behind Your Back’

Erik ten Hag’s future at Manchester United: What we’re hearing
Erik ten Hag’s future at Manchester United: What we’re hearing

Erik ten Hag, Manchester United’s manager, expressed his frustrations after a disheartening season that saw the club suffer a record ninth home defeat, falling to Arsenal 1-0 at Old Trafford. This loss severely dented their hopes for European competition qualification. Ten Hag likened the experience of managing the club under current conditions to “swimming with your hands tied behind your back,” a metaphor for the significant challenges he has faced, including a lengthy injury list that has compromised the team’s potential.

“Any manager can always do something better, but I am two years here and I had only one time the full group of players, and you cannot progress a team with so many injuries. It is like swimming with your hands behind your back. You have to keep your head above water and we are trying to do that.”

“It shouldn’t be like this, but I return to all the problems we have and you then analyse the performance. You have to see that we were competitive, but that is not what you want, of course; we have to win, we have to win every game.”

“But at the moment, we are not at this position and definitely not this team with the injuries,” said ten Hag.

The Dutchman has been forced to deploy unconventional line-ups due to injuries, notably using midfielder Casemiro as a center-half. Key players such as Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire, and Mason Mount have been sidelined, limiting United’s strength and depth. Ten Hag emphasized that the persistent absence of these crucial players has hindered any consistent team progress.

Manchester United’s hopes for salvaging their season now hinge on their remaining fixtures, including an FA Cup final against Manchester City, which could secure them a spot in the Europa League. Additionally, a Premier League match against sixth-place Newcastle stands as another opportunity to claim a European spot, though they face stiff competition from seventh-place Chelsea.

As the season winds down, Ten Hag underlined the importance of these final matches, suggesting that failing to qualify for European competition would be a significant setback for the club. Despite the “massive problems” faced, he remains focused on achieving the best possible finish, underscoring his commitment to the club and its supporters.

“It is very damaging. That is the situation we are in, but still we can get there. We have the opportunities to take them and fight, even when the problems are massive, everyone knows this.

“We have to deserve it, especially the fans, they follow us on Monday they understand the position we are in. Today they are behind us from the first whistle, they see the team needs backing and support, so we are united and that is very good.”

The fans’ continued support has been a silver lining, with Ten Hag appreciating their understanding and backing under trying circumstances. This communal spirit will be crucial as United strives to overcome the challenges and close the season on a high note, with European qualification still within reach.

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