United's Pre-Season Woes Continue: Ten Hag Criticizes Players for Disregarding Team Rules

Manchester United’s pre-season struggles continue as they suffered a 3-2 defeat to Borussia Dortmund, prompting head coach Erik ten Hag to express his disappointment with the team’s performance, especially during the final 30 minutes of the contest.

The Red Devils initially showed promise, taking the lead through Diogo Dalot, but two quickfire goals from Donyell Malen turned the tide in favor of the Bundesliga giants at the half-time mark. Antony managed to level the score shortly after the restart, but a late strike from Youssoufa Moukoko secured the victory for Dortmund.

Speaking about the match to MUTV, Ten Hag acknowledged the team’s commendable performance during the opening hour, highlighting their cohesive play, dynamic movement, and effective pressing. However, the Dutchman expressed contrasting sentiments about the final 30 minutes of the game, where some players seemingly deviated from the team’s principles.

The players on the pitch during that period, including Casemiro, Bruno Fernandes, and Mason Mount, were criticized by Ten Hag for not adhering to the team’s rules. He described the last half-hour as a “poor performance,” stating that the players failed to maintain their collective approach, resulting in individualistic play that didn’t align with the team’s philosophy.

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, center, drives through Borussia Dortmund’s Niklas Sule, left, and Borussia Dortmund’s Thorgan Hazard, right, during the second half of an international friendly soccer match Sunday, July 30, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Guliver Image/John Locher)

Ten Hag emphasized that the goals conceded during that phase were due to defensive lapses and a lack of control in building up from the back. He described these mistakes as “unforgivable,” even in a friendly match, and stressed the importance of maintaining responsibility on the ball.

As Manchester United’s pre-season schedule nears its conclusion, Ten Hag’s observations and criticism will likely serve as valuable lessons for the team to address areas of improvement before the Premier League campaign kicks off. The Red Devils have two more friendlies against Lens and Athletic Bilbao, providing further opportunities to fine-tune their performances before their season opener against Wolverhampton Wanderers on August 14.

Stay tuned for more updates on Manchester United’s pre-season journey as they prepare for the challenges ahead.

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