Erik ten Hag explains Manchester United’s latest setback, reinforces pleas for patience

Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United pulled another point out of a poor performance when Bruno Fernandes scored a pair of equalizers in a 2-2 draw at Bournemouth on Saturday.

The Red Devils boss, however, knew better than to try and shine up the dropped points as one gained away from home with good effort.

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It would’ve been an embarrassing stand to take after United fell to 1-3-3 in their last seven Premier League games, a stretch that has all but ended their top four hopes and includes a home loss to Fulham and draws away to lower-half Brentford and Bournemouth.

Ten Hag appreciated the fightback from his team, for sure, and praised Harry Maguire for playing through an injury, but this was not his personal silver linings playbook. He knows this has been a grim stretch.

Erik ten Hag breaks down Bournemouth 2-2 Man United

“We have a team that is resilient, has character, and want to win,” Ten Hag said after the game, via the BBC. “Twice we fought back from losing positions. We get in losing positions and it is totally unneccessary. Three times we lose the ball easily and in areas you should not lose balls and we were not always well organized. There were some gaps that the opposition benefitted from, especially down the right side, and with that we should do better.”

Ten Hag said United continuously lost the ball “in the wrong positions.” He didn’t namecheck Alejandro Garnacho — he wouldn’t need to after subbing the player off at halftime — but he did point to the Red Devils’ right side after Bournemouth twice victimized the unit.

“Down the right side they were finding ways to hurt us and there were jobs to be done but it was not always done,” he said. “Then you get problems. Go with your opponent, that is your job. One part is collaboration and the other is discipline.”

He knows they’ve been the architect of their top-four demise.

“This is not enough, we know that,” Ten Hag said when asked about United’s attempt to make the top four. “When you come into the final stage of the season this is not enough. The truth is we did not deserve more today. We have to do better, control the game, score goals and not give as many chances away.”

Ten Hag maintains that it’s all part of a process

The Dutchman didn’t change his tune when asked whether Man United supporters need to stay patient with his rebuild of the team.

“It is up to them but it is the truth,” Ten Hag said. “At this moment with all the problems we have we play to our levels. We can play very good and to our levels when everyone is on top form but we have to do it for the whole 90 minutes.”

Well that’s a big ask.

United next has Coventry City in the FA Cup semifinal round before a straight-forward run of fixtures versus Sheffield United, Burnley, and Crystal Palace.

Then it’s a rough finish of Arsenal, Newcastle, and Brighton.

If the Red Devils continue to drop points to bottom-half sides — yes, even acknowledging Bournemouth’s improvement over the last few months — then it’s illogical to plead for patience.

At this point, the seventh-place Red Devils could really be passed by any number of West Ham, Chelsea, and Brighton. Dropping into 10th is not a crazy projection given how they played Saturday, and then INEOS’ recruitment plan may hinge on winning the FA Cup — if they handle Coventry — in order to recruit top players and, perhaps, a coach.

Lose out on Europe, and there may not be many better options than Ten Hag who want the job.

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