Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag bluntly questioned a lack of ‘passion’ and ‘desire’ from his team in their Europa League defeat at the hands of Sevilla on Thursday night.
United, having already thrown away a 2-0 lead late in the first leg because of two own goals, made a disastrous start when Youssef En-Nesyri capitalised on a poor pass from David de Gea to Harry Maguire under pressure. Loic Bade scored Sevilla’s second at a corner, before En-Nesyri was gifted his second and Sevilla’s third by a catastrophic mis-control from De Gea miles from goal.
But across the 90 minutes at the hostile Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, United barely even turned up.
“It’s clear. When you make such mistakes, it’s very difficult to win a football game,” Ten Hag stated as he spoke to BT Sport afterwards.
“We have to do better, that’s the demand. We were not composed, not calm. We didn’t beat the press, when you do there are so many spaces behind, and it was obvious at the start how to do it.
“We lost the battles, they had more passion, more desire, more willingness, that’s difficult to win games. We can’t run away from it. On Sunday [against Brighton in the FA Cup semi-final], we have another opportunity and have to step up and show more character and personality.”
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United were without Bruno Fernandes due to suspension, with preferred starting centre-backs Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane sidelined through injury.
“It’s not about [the players who were missing], it’s about the players on the pitch,” Ten Hag said. “They have to perform. I believe in them and trust them, but they have to show it and they were not good enough.
“We have shown on so many occasions good things but we weren’t ready for the game. At this level, playing for Manchester United, you have to be ready for every game.
“This was a great opportunity, a great occasion, to win something and we gave it away – we have to blame ourselves. It’s gone, we can’t change it. We have to look forward to Sunday, that’s the next opportunity.”
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