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Erik ten Hag hits back at Jamie Carragher’s analysis of Manchester United

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Erik ten Hag has hit back at Jamie Carragher’s “subjective” analysis of Manchester United on Monday Night Football.

United’s four-game winning run in the Premier League ended on Saturday with a 2-1 home defeat to Fulham, keeping them eight points adrift of the Champions League places.

Sky Sports’ Carragher highlighted why recent results have masked the problems with Ten Hag’s system, which has left them so susceptible defensively even when winning games.

But Ten Hag fired back at Carragher’s analysis ahead of their FA Cup fifth-round tie at Nottingham Forest on Wednesday, saying: “Some analysts are objective in their comments, [offer] very good advices, some are very subjective – Jamie Carragher is one of them.

“For the first moment he is criticising and now he wants to make his point. In the first half an hour [vs Fulham] he had a point. Fulham surprised with their midfield setup and we had to find a solution. We did after half an hour.

“I wasn’t pleased with the defensive performance, especially down the left side and that has everything to do with willingness, spirit and passion. That was good in previous weeks, therefore we won football games.

“Footballers are not robots, sometimes they have bad days. It was unacceptable and we have to do better tomorrow.”

The FA Cup represents the last realistic chance of silverware for Manchester United this season and Ten Hag stressed the importance of the fixture at Forest.

“We were unbeaten in January and February and we lost one game. It was a poor performance and defeat, we are aware,” he said. “We want to stay in every competition. We have to win tomorrow. It doesn’t change our approach – that is for every game.

“I know the future. But I look at today, we work on the team development and try to win every game. We look forward to the longer term.”

Since Ten Hag joined the club in 2022, United have faced 20 or more shots in a Premier League game 12 times – already double that of Man City and Liverpool under Guardiola and Klopp, despite the pair having spent a combined 13 years longer with their clubs.

This season alone, Ten Hag has watched his side face 16 or more shots on 14 different occasions, a tally matched only by Luton and Sheffield United, who both sit in the relegation zone.

Carragher said: “Over the last few weeks, Manchester United have been in great form but still the underlying numbers have been really poor.

“They’ve been very fortunate, so we’re not talking about them now just because they lost to Fulham.

“It’s about performance. They defend like a team I’ve never seen before. They like to press high with a deep block.

“It’s impossible. They like to do two things at the same time. You can only do one or the other.

“We’re all pressing high or we’re all defending deep. They’re trying to do both.”

Carragher said: “I’ve chosen clips against Fulham, but I could have chosen clips from where they’ve won games like against Aston Villa. It’s still the same problem.

“I want to highlight a problem from the very kick-off. If I highlight Kobbie Mainoo, this is not a criticism of him, it’s more of what are his instructions before the game?

“He’s not sure if he should be looking after the holding midfielder or watching the No 10. He’s caught in between.

“It’s straight from the kick-off. You should know your job from kick-off. That’s down to the coaching staff.

“You can see the big problem then had just 20 seconds into the game against Fulham. It’s been the problem for Manchester United all season.

“They’ve shown they’re a poor side at handling counter-attacks. They’ve got no pace at the back and they’ve got a lack of legs in midfield.”

Carragher added: “Another big problem for them is when they’ve got the ball. Some people say there’s no patterns of play with Manchester United.

“What’s their philosophy? I tell you one of the reasons why there’s no patterns of play and another reason why they get done on the counter-attack… Look at the positions the players find themselves in when Raphael Varane is on the ball.

“You look where the right-back is [Diogo Dalot] and he can’t receive a pass. Mainoo is on the last line. His position can’t be right. Bruno Fernandes, your No 10 is playing like a striker, and on the other side, Victor Lindelof can’t receive the ball.

“It leads to a turnover and how many times have you seen Manchester United players having to run 40 yards back to their own goal this season?”

“Look at the ones who are sprinting. The ones who took up wrong positions. Dalot, Mainoo, Bruno Fernandes and Lindelof. They’re sprinting 30, 40, 50 yards five or six times in a game – hence why they get so many injuries in a game.

“With Fulham’s winning goal, we see that Marcus Rashford won’t run while Harry Maguire and Christian Eriksen can’t run. That’s a massive problem for them.”

 

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European Leagues

Belgium: Onyedika scores again as Club Brugge thrash Antwerp

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Belgium: Onyedika scores again as Club Brugge thrash Antwerp

Nigeria midfielder Raphael Onyedika was on target for the second consecutive game as Club Brugge defeated Royal Antwerp 3-0 on Sunday.

Onyedika opened the scoring for Club Brugge one minute before the break.

The 22-year-old has now scored three goals in his last two games for the former Belgian Pro League champions.

Onyedika was in action for 90 minutes in the game.

The former FC Midtjylland star will however miss Club Brugge’s next game against Union St Gilloise after picking his third yellow card of the play-offs.

His compatriots, Alhassan Yusuf and Chidera Ejuke were in action for Royal Antwerp in the game.

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EPL: Iwobi grabs assist in Fulham’s win at West Ham

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EPL: Iwobi grabs assist in Fulham’s win at West Ham

Alex Iwobi registered an assist as Fulham defeated West Ham United at the London Stadium.

Iwobi set up Andreas Pereira for the Whites second goal of the game in the 72nd minute.

It was the Nigeria international’s third assist in the Premier League this season.

The midfielder has also scored five goals.

Iwobi was replaced by Harry Wilson in the 74th minute.

His compatriot Calvin Bassey also put up a solid display for Fulham.

Bassey was in action for 90 minutes in the game.

 

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Serie A: Osimhen on target but not enough as Napoli slip at Frosinone

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Serie A: Osimhen on target but not enough as Napoli slip at Frosinone

Napoli’s slim chances of Champions League football were dealt another blow on Sunday after a 2-2 home draw in their Serie A match with struggling Frosinone.

Walid Cheddira’s first brace in Italy’s top flight earned a point for Frosinone in Naples.

It left ailing Italian champions Napoli in eighth, six points behind fifth-placed Roma, who can extend their advantage when they face Udinese later on Sunday.

Italian clubs’ strong performances in European football mean a top-five finish in Serie A is almost certain to gain a spot in the Champions League.

Napoli are increasingly unlikely to be among that group, and were booed off the pitch at a sparsely-populated Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Francesco Calzona’s side looked set for sixth place when Victor Osimhen diverted home Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s mishit shot in the 63rd minute.

Instead Cheddira, who had previously levelled Matteo Politano’s stunning early opener after the away side were gifted possession by Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret, headed home his second 10 minutes after Osimhen’s strike.

Frosinone stay just inside the bottom three and level on 27 points with 17th-placed Verona, who are outside the relegation zone on goal difference and face Atalanta on Monday.

Eusebio Di Francesco’s team deserved the draw from an eventful game in which Meret initially looked to be the hero after he saved Matias Soule’s penalty on the half-hour mark.

Frosinone have only won one league match since late November but successive draws with Genoa, fourth-placed Bologna and now Napoli have boosted their hopes of staying up.

Later Inter Milan host Cagliari at the San Siro, where a win will guarantee an opportunity to seal their 20th league title in the Milan derby on Monday week.

Inter are a whopping 14 points ahead of closest challengers AC Milan, who are at Sassuolo on Sunday.

Beating Cagliari will ensure the derby will be a chance for Inter to claim the Scudetto regardless of how Milan do in their match.

 

 

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