Erik ten Hag

Erik ten Hag insists Manchester United still have plenty of room for improvement after they held on for a 1-0 win against West Ham.

David de Gea brilliantly denied Kurt Zouma and Declan Rice in the last 10 minutes as United stretched their unbeaten run to eight games across all competitions.

United are a point off fourth place in the Premier League and with a game in hand but Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola last week suggested Ten Hag’s team were potential championship challengers.

“It’s a nice compliment,” Ten Hag remarked, “but I also see a lot of room for improvement in our game and we have to if we want to compete for the top four positions, we have to improve.

“For instance, the first-half we have to dominate more on the ball, to bring ourselves in better positions between the lines. Second-half, definitely, we were quite poor in possession, there was a lot of space on the pitch, we give away the ball too easily, many wrong decisions, we go direct for goal instead of keeping the ball. You have to outplay them when you get so much space, you have to make that second goal and then games are much easier.

“But it’s a skill for a team to protect your box, and survive an opponent who will come and go for an equaliser, definitely, that is a skill. There are some positives still but a lot of negatives in our game. We analyse that and have to work on that.”

United have kept five clean sheets in their last six games and won with Harry Maguire and Lisandro Martinez as their starting centre-backs for the first time.

Maguire was recalled for his first Premier League start since August 13 as Victor Lindelof was unwell while Martinez has started all 12 league games this term.

“We defend with 11,” Ten Hag stressed, “so I’m happy with all of the pitch how we do it and a part of it defending the box, when they’re pressing, get beaten, that’s a part of it and we do it well.

“We have a massive keeper, he’s really composed, really controlled, he had the confidence. He made some great saves.

“But when I see how the back four is defending the box, really good cooperation, really well closing gaps, supporting each other, covering each other and going for the battles, that’s what they’re doing and it gives a really good spirit and fight to the team.”Erik ten Hag insists Manchester United still have plenty of room for improvement after they held on for a 1-0 win against West Ham.

David de Gea brilliantly denied Kurt Zouma and Declan Rice in the last 10 minutes as United stretched their unbeaten run to eight games across all competitions.

United are a point off fourth place in the Premier League and with a game in hand but Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola last week suggested Ten Hag’s team were potential championship challengers.

“It’s a nice compliment,” Ten Hag remarked, “but I also see a lot of room for improvement in our game and we have to if we want to compete for the top four positions, we have to improve.

“For instance, the first-half we have to dominate more on the ball, to bring ourselves in better positions between the lines. Second-half, definitely, we were quite poor in possession, there was a lot of space on the pitch, we give away the ball too easily, many wrong decisions, we go direct for goal instead of keeping the ball. You have to outplay them when you get so much space, you have to make that second goal and then games are much easier.

“But it’s a skill for a team to protect your box, and survive an opponent who will come and go for an equaliser, definitely, that is a skill. There are some positives still but a lot of negatives in our game. We analyse that and have to work on that.”

United have kept five clean sheets in their last six games and won with Harry Maguire and Lisandro Martinez as their starting centre-backs for the first time.

Maguire was recalled for his first Premier League start since August 13 as Victor Lindelof was unwell while Martinez has started all 12 league games this term.

“We defend with 11,” Ten Hag stressed, “so I’m happy with all of the pitch how we do it and a part of it defending the box, when they’re pressing, get beaten, that’s a part of it and we do it well.

“We have a massive keeper, he’s really composed, really controlled, he had the confidence. He made some great saves.

“But when I see how the back four is defending the box, really good cooperation, really well closing gaps, supporting each other, covering each other and going for the battles, that’s what they’re doing and it gives a really good spirit and fight to the team.”

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