Erik ten Hag said he was satisfied with Manchester United’s performance in the 4-0 win over Liverpool, but claimed his side ‘made some mistakes’ in their pressing.
The Red Devils emphatically beat their old foes in the stifling humidity of Bangkok on Tuesday, where goals from Jadon Sancho, Fred and Anthony Martial gave Ten Hag a 3-0 lead at half time during his first game in charge.
The second half was a different affair, with a weakened and youthful United side holding their own against a strong Liverpool team, and it was Facundo Pellistri who netted the only goal of the second period when he touched home from a breakaway attack.
The Red Devils were notably more energetic against Jurgen Klopp’s men and pressed them for long periods despite the heat. United also attacked with precision and speed, particularly in the opening 45 minutes.
But their offensive style did leave gaps in behind the defence, and they were fortunate on a number of occasions not to concede, with Liverpool hitting the post on three occasions at the Rajamangala Stadium, while they created twice as many shots as their North-West rivals.
Speaking after the game, Ten Hag said he was happy with United’s impressive victory and attacking displays, even if their pressing, understandably, still requires some work.
“Of course we are satisfied with today, because I think that was a team with a great spirit,” Ten Hag told MUTV after the game.
“We know we are just starting. We did the press; we made some mistakes in pressing and conceded some chances, but also we created lots.
“I thought our team played brave, played proactive and we had to play really hard to get out of the mistakes, but we are happy with the first game.
“I know we have good players,” he added. “We have started the first game and I am happy.”
No time to celebrate
United’s performance was even more impressive given Ten Hag has had just over two weeks on the training ground with his players.
There was an undeniable improvement in terms of energy, penetration and closing down as a unit, compared to the timid displays that were seen in the latter stages of the 2021/22 campaign.
But Ten Hag wasn’t patting himself on the back just yet and insisted there is plenty more work required, while admitting Liverpool were far from their best on Tuesday.
“A lot of time [is needed],” the former Ajax man opined. “Believe me, I have seen a lot of mistakes [in training].
“But to be honest, Liverpool were not the strongest and we will not overestimate this result. But still, I have seen some really good things. As you can see, we have a lot of creativity and speed up front. We have potential.”