Erik ten Hag claims he has ‘never’ started first-choice starting XI as Manchester United boss

Erik ten Hag claims he has ‘never’ started first-choice starting XI as Manchester United boss

Erik ten Hag believes he has “never” been able to name his first-choice starting XI at Manchester United.

It has been a frustrating start to the season for the Dutchman and his side, with a 3-1 defeat to Brighton over the weekend leaving United 13th in the Premier League table with just two wins from their opening five games.

They now travel to Bayern Munich to start their Champions League campaign, with Copenhagen and Galatasaray the other two sides in Group A.

Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are the lates United players to be ruled out with injury, joining a list of unavailable stars including Mason Mount, Raphael Varane and Luke Shaw.

Asked whether he has been frustrated by United’s struggles to implement the kind of football his Ajax side produced, Ten Hag pointed to the injury issues he has had to contend with since arriving at Old Trafford last summer.

“One thing is true, from the start [of] last season I almost never started with the best, I would say, the best starting XI,” the United boss said.

“There was always something, like an injury. But you have to deal with and we always got the results in, apart from the period we are in now. That is football and that will always play a part. I have the experience from this in the past, I have managed this in the past, it is now always going up.

“You have to deal with it and it’s also a situation I like as you have to handle it and we have to manage this. You must know what to do and this in focus on the process.”

Ten Hag was though keen to insist there was no need for his side to look for a complete overhaul after the defeat to Brighton, believing there were still positives to take from United’s display.

“No, we don’t feel we need a reset, absolutely not,” Ten Hag said.

“We are in the process and what you see is that in parts of game we played good. But then also, in other parts we play below our levels. What we have to demand is to be consistent and we must step up in certain levels, all the time for 90-plus minutes. That is the demand on us.”