Erik ten Hag didn’t gloss over the paucity of his Manchester United side’s display in their 3-1 loss to Aston Villa, labelling the display “not acceptable”.
United had been on a promising run of nine matches without defeat in all competitions before their trip to Villa Park, but that all came crashing down as an energetic, Unai Emery-led Villa turned in a ruthless performance that was entirely unlike most of their previous matches in the Premier League this term.
Ten Hag castigated his team’s starts to both halves, as goals from Leon Bailey and Lucas Digne inside 10 minutes gave the visitors an ultimately insurmountable mountain to climb.
“We lost the game at the start of the first half, start of the second half,” Ten Hag said. “That’s not acceptable. You have to be ready for the game, we were not.
“We have to be more sharp. I said it was up to us. It was up to us. We didn’t keep the ball. We let them run at the start of the game, we didn’t get the right organisation but especially we didn’t follow the rules in defending and we lost battles.
“It’s not acceptable. A player has to take responsibility to be ready. It looked like they were fresher and that’s never acceptable.
“The result is clear. That never lies. In football, you get your earnings. Today we were not good enough.
“You have to read the game. You have to get the right organisation and not concede two goals. That was totally unnecessary because then you have to stay together, compact and win your battles. Stay on the ball. It’s everything we didn’t do.
”It is a setback. This is a process and I know it will not only go up. Setbacks will come and we have to deal with that.”
Ten Hag was particularly angry at how his side laboured in their attempts to get Cristiano Ronaldo – skipper for the encounter – into the game via crosses.
“I think it was stupid to do that [often look for Ronaldo in the air],” Ten Hag said. “We delivered too many quick crosses in from too far away. There was too much forcing and we didn’t have to.
“We have to find the crosses in the right moments. The right moment was when Christian Eriksen did so in the first half, and the moment was when he found Cristiano in the pocket at the far post.
“That was the right moment.”