Erik ten Hag tells Manchester United players not to feel sorry for themselves before Newcastle test

Erik ten Hag has questions to answer as United boss (Getty Images)

Erik ten Hag has insisted he still believes in his Manchester United players and told them they cannot feel sorry for themselves, despite their poor start to the season.

The Dutchman maintains that United remain on the right track, though Sunday’s 3-0 defeat to Manchester City was their seventh loss of the campaign in all competitions, and claimed they have improved in recent weeks as he said he is “certain” they will turn their fortunes around.

Wednesday’s clash against Newcastle is a rematch of last season’s Carabao Cup final and Ten Hag has challenged his team with retaining the trophy.

He wrote in United Review: “There is no point in feeling sorry for ourselves at this moment in time. Nobody at this club enjoys defeat, particularly in a Manchester derby like last Sunday, but everything we have achieved together so far has been built on looking forward, which means we have to move on quickly from what happens, whether it is positive or negative. We have never spent too long enjoying our victories, so we will not spend too much time thinking about our losses.

“I continue to believe in these players and am confident we will improve after a difficult start to the season. On Sunday, in the first half particularly, we showed good defensive discipline and we created opportunities to counter-attack, but we were unable to capitalise on those chances at decisive times in the game. Important moments went against us and we were once again reminded that any mistake is punished at the highest level. Before the derby, we won three games in a row and demonstrated our character on each occasion, so we have developed in recent weeks.”

Ten Hag warned his team that any slip-up against Newcastle will be fatal as he reminded them there are no second chances in the Carabao Cup.

He added: “We know how good it feels to lift this trophy and, as holders, we want to get back to Wembley Stadium again this season and defend the Carabao Cup. Our game management throughout that cup run, especially in the final against Newcastle, showed our ability to rise to big occasions – and [Wednesday] is definitely another big occasion for us.

“This is cup football and there is no second chance if we don’t perform on the night. At Manchester United, every game involves high stakes. Every single day, there is pressure on everybody involved with this club, but those demands and standards are a challenge which we must always meet head-on. While this has not been the start to the season that we had all hoped for, I am certain that we have the talent and attitude as a collective to move in the right direction.”