Ten Hag reacts to claim from Guardiola that ‘finally Man Utd are coming back’

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Erik ten Hag thinks Pep Guardiola’s claim that “finally Man Utd are coming back” is a bit premature after their 1-0 win over West Ham.

The Red Devils have been largely on the up this season after losing their two opening games under Ten Hag to Brighton and Brentford.

After their narrow win over West Ham they are now eight unbeaten in all competitions and before Sunday’s match Guardiola claimed Man Utd – who have struggled to get close to winning a title since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013 – are “coming back”.

Speaking on Friday, the Man City boss said: “I have the feeling United are coming back, finally United is coming back. I’ve seen it on Thursday (the 3-0 win over Sheriff Tiraspol), and against Chelsea in the first half (of the 1-1 draw last weekend).

“I said I like what I see of United right now. There will be a lot of teams like United fighting. That’s why you have to fight to qualify for the Champions League and fight for the title.”

But Ten Hag moved to play down Guardiola’s suggestions despite Man Utd suffering just one defeat in their last ten Premier League matches.

Speaking on Sky Sports, Ten Hag said: “It’s a nice compliment but I also see a lot of room for improvement in our game and we have to if we want to compete for the top four positions, we have to improve.

“For instance, the first-half we have to dominate more on the ball, to bring ourselves in better positions between the lines. Second-half, definitely, we were quite poor in possession, there was a lot of space on the pitch, we give away the ball too easily, many wrong decisions, we go direct for goal instead of keeping the ball. You have to outplay them when you get so much space, you have to make that second goal and then games are much easier.

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“But it’s a skill for a team to protect your box, and survive an opponent who will come and go for an equaliser, definitely, that is a skill. There are some positives still but a lot of negatives in our game. We analyse that and have to work on that.”

On defending the win, Ten Hag praised Man Utd goalkeeper David de Gea, he added: “We defend with 11, so I’m happy with all of the pitch how we do it and a part of it defending the box, when they’re pressing, get beaten, that’s a part of it and we do it well.

“We have a massive keeper, he’s really composed, really controlled, he had the confidence. He made some great saves.

“But when I see how the back four is defending the box, really good cooperation, really well closing gaps, supporting each other, covering each other and going for the battles, that’s what they’re doing and it gives a really good spirit and fight to the team.”

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