Manchester United beat Bournemouth 3-0 at Old Trafford on Tuesday night to move level on points with third-placed Newcastle; Casemiro, Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford scored as Erik ten Hag's side made it six consecutive wins in all competitions
Wednesday 4 January 2023 13:42, UK
Erik ten Hag was happy with Manchester United’s 3-0 win over Bournemouth but claimed it was not the best game from his team and suggested they were lucky.
Goals from Casemiro, Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford made it a comfortable enough evening for the hosts at Old Trafford as United moved level on points with third-placed Newcastle but Ten Hag preferred to focus on David de Gea's saves in the second half.
"I'm happy with that, quite obvious and quite clear," said the Dutchman. "But today was not our best game, we have to be honest, we didn't play that smart as a team, we made great goals but also sometimes we were lucky.
"There were great saves from David and I think we could avoid that by playing a little bit more smart, playing a bit more as a team. Finally we ended up with two departments, one attacking one, one defending one.
"At 2-0 up there are big spaces, keep the ball, and recognise when there's a chance to go for goal. There's always a next step, but all over it's of course good when you win 3-0 at home.
"I think we had some great attacks, I think for the audience it was a great performance - with chances at both ends, and we won, so that is always good."
Ten Hag added in the press conference after the game: "It was like a tennis match. We don't want to play tennis we want to play football. Keep possession. It costs so much energy for the back line. They take a lot of risks and the front players struggle to get back.
"We are still in a process. In the first half, we control the game but don't play brilliantly. In the second half, we make a great counter. But we have to be smart. Stay compact. Make them run. You will have chances.
"We feel strong but we only stay strong if we do our jobs and give 100 per cent in every situation. I did not have that feeling. I had a feeling we thought it was easy and the game was gone. But if they make it 2-1 then the game is not gone.
"The belief is growing and it is good to have that feeling but we have to understand that we have to give 100 per cent in every game."
One concern for Ten Hag was the injury to Donny van de Beek that saw his evening end early in what would prove to be his first home win as a starter in the Premier League.
"I can't give it at this moment," said the United boss when asked to give an update on the fitness of his compatriot. "We have to wait 24 hours but it is not looking very good."
United's future looks rather better but Ten Hag is unwilling to look too far ahead.
"We have to go from game to game. Next game is a cup game, but there's also a league we want to win, we want to win every game, but that has to be the approach.
"The approach has to be to the next game and don't look any further, focus on that, it's going to be a tough game, we know that, so we need every energy and the right preparation to have the energy when we kick off on Friday night."
Manchester United host Everton in the FA Cup third round on Friday at 8pm before welcoming Charlton to Old Trafford on January 10, also at 8pm, in the Carabao Cup quarter-final.
United return to Premier League action on January 14 at 12.30pm when rivals Manchester City make the trip to Old Trafford.