Erik ten Hag praises strength in numbers as Man Utd boss turns attention to cup glory

Ciaran McCarthy
Erik ten Hag, Manchester United, April 2023

Erik ten Hag praised the strength of his side no matter who is available, as injury-ridden Manchester United beat Nottingham Forest to win their third league game on the bounce.

Either side of wins in the Europa League round of 16 second leg and the FA Cup quarter-final – against Real Betis and Fulham, respectively – Ten Hag’s men left a lot to be desired in the league. Indeed, they drew 0-0 with Southampton ahead of those ties, a game in which Casemiro got sent off, before losing 2-0 to Newcastle United.

They’ve won each league game since then, and not conceded a goal. Indeed, today’s win over Nottingham Forest at the City Ground followed home victories against Brentford and then Everton.

As with both of those wins, today’s game saw United take the upper hand in the first half, Antony following in on a saved Anthony Martial strike to take the lead.

The Brazilian was a handful throughout the game and he had a hand in United’s second, too. Indeed, he moved inside from the right flank with the ball, charging at defenders before slotting through to Diogo Dalot, who finished ably to double United’s lead, with the score staying at 2-0 until the end of the game.

Speaking to BBC following the game, Ten Hag was full of praise for his side in winning another league game, especially picking out the solid defence.

“Solid win. Really focused and concentrated from start to finish,” he said.

“Very good, a really solid performance from all on the pitch today. Centre backs had great cooperation, full backs were brilliant in and out of possession. Harry [Maguire] and Victor [Lindelof] dominated their opponents.”

Indeed, the defence has been hindered by injuries recently. Those injury concerns have stretched to Marcel Sabitzer, who was due to play, but ruled out in the warm-up.

Ten Hag detailed the strength in numbers his side possesses, as he was able to call upon the recently-injured Christian Eriksen.

“Sabitzer came off in the warm up, he felt something. We decided not to take the risk, we will find out tomorrow what it is. But when you have Eriksen on the bench, it is definitely not a disadvantage,” he said.

That strength will be important over the next week, as Ten Hag now has the second leg of the Europa League quarter-final with Sevilla to look ahead to, before the FA Cup semi-final against Brighton.

“Last week I had nine fit top defenders, now I have four. We need all our players, we are still in three competitions, we need all the players to form a top team,” he added.

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