Erik ten Hag declared that his Manchester United team can “f***ing play good football” after their 2-1 win against Liverpool on Monday at Old Trafford.
United scored first through Jadon Sancho before Marcus Rashford added a second.
In a much-improved team performance compared to their opening two fixtures which saw them lose twice, United held on despite Mohamed Salah’s late effort.
Speaking after the game to Sky Sports, Ten Hag used colourful language to celebrate his team’s efforts.
“It’s all about attitude,” he began. “We bring attitude on the pitch. Communication and fighting spirit, and you see what they can achieve. And they can f***ing play good football.”
Asked if he expected an improvement after last weekend’s 4-0 defeat to Brentford, he said: “Expect? I wanted a different approach and attitude and that’s what they bring on the pitch, and that’s what makes me satisfied. That’s just the start, we can have much more composure. We have good players and we can be a good team.
“It’s not always about what it is said. I said we have to act, not talk a lot. Make sure you are a team and battle, and be brave. Give people options when they have the ball. When out of position, we want to press. Sometimes strikers can’t do it because they have to save their energy, now it’s a demand.”
Bruno Fernandes was captain in the absence of Harry Maguire, who was dropped along with Cristiano Ronaldo, and Ten Hag said the Portuguese midfielder thrived with the armband.
“I think he took responsibility and it encouraged me, and he showed leadership. It made a huge difference and that is what they have to bring. We need more leaders, if you want a winning team.
“I was happy with it but they have to bring it every day. It’s only one game, they are happy. I know the rivalry with Liverpool. It’s difficult. It’s heavy.
“Tactically is also part of it, of course you see where you can have weapons in the game. We play at speed on the front, that’s quite clear. I want to see Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes – they can play in midfield with the pass. Scott McTominay also played a magnificent game. With balance, you can hurt an opponent.”
Lisandro Martinez retained his place and, after an impressive display, Ten Hag observed: “For a defender his technical skills are quite good, and his position and his battling. Both on the ground and aerial.”
As for Maguire, linked with a transfer to Chelsea in recent days, Ten Hag said he and Ronaldo – a late sub – would be needed over the course of the campaign.
“It’s always difficult but I have decisions to make,” he explained. “I have a squad and we have to use a squad. We have to play 50-60 games, from game to game we will see what team we have to pick. They are amazing players and they will have a part to play.”
Goalscorers Sancho and Rashford were relieved to put on a better show for the fans, with Rashford celebrating a win over local rivals
“It was a massive game for the club,” he told Sky Sports. “Regardless of the circumstances a game against Liverpool is massive. A win is massive.
“I think it was energy. We started the game at a higher tempo. They got a goal back and we didn’t fold, and it was an enjoyable game to play in.”
Sancho meanwhile was happy to get a win on the board after recent disappointments.
He said: “It means a lot, our first two games didn’t go so well. It was a big game and we had to turn it around. Obviously last week hurt a lot, so we knew we had to bounce back and show the fans what we know we can do.
“It means a lot to all of us, you can see how the fans react. It was a big three points.”