‘I didn’t see it that way’ - Erik ten Hag disagrees with Gary Neville’s Man Utd assessment

The Manchester United manager felt criticism of his midfield structure against Wolves was unfair.
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Erik ten Hag said he does not agree that Casemiro was too exposed in Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday.

The Red Devils were second best against Wolves in the season opener and were often overrun in the middle, so much so that Gary Neville claimed United’s midfield was ‘non-existent’.

It’s a major area of concern for Ten Hag ahead of Saturday’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur, with the United boss still trying to fine tune his midfield trio following the arrival of Mason Mount this summer. Yet, asked how to deal with the issue of Casemiro’s lack of protection in the middle, Ten Hag said he did not think the Brazilian was overly exposed last week.

“First, I didn’t see it that way. I thought he [Casemiro] was surrounded by Luke Shaw, he was surrounded also in cases by Lisandro Martinez, by Mason Mount,” the Dutchman claimed in his pre-match press conference. 

“But definitely it is a new midfield, we can, we have to step up there, we have to improve. So I agree in that fact. We have to improve it. In possession we were absolutely no good and had to do with rules and principles. We didn’t match the rules and principles in our possession game, then we don’t get a good game.

“Also players make so many unforced errors,” he continued. “It was very below our standards, in what I use for my players, in what my players are capable of, but it can happen, it’s the form of today. But I have seen already in pre-season they can do much better, I have seen last year of course, they can do much better, I am sure they will improve quickly.”

As Ten Hag continues to search for his perfect midfield combination, he was asked whether Mason Mount could be an option in a deeper role. “I think yeah he can [play there], already we have seen it in pre-season,” he replied. 

“What I said definitely, we have to work on many facts of our game, but also midfield, cooperation, how we set it. I am sure we will get it. But it’s not coming overnight. If it was easier, everyone could do it.”