Erik ten Hag accused his players of producing an “unacceptable” performance as Manchester United were knocked out of the Europa League by Sevilla, insisting that they lacked fight, character and the will to win.
United gave away two goals in a 3-0 defeat at the Sánchez-Pizjuán, two from Youssef En-Nesyri and another from Loïc Baldé completing a 5-2 aggregate victory for a side that have spent much of the season fighting relegation in Spain. But on a calamitous night it was not just about the errors committed by Harry Maguire and David de Gea, with Ten Hag admitting that Sevilla had been “clear” winners. That was made worse, the coach said, by the fact that this is not the first time.
“I have to acknowledge that it is the truth: it is hard, it is tough and it can’t be. It’s unacceptable,” he said. “We have to learn. We have to start games better, [with] more desire, passion, composure on the ball. And when we have a setback we have to deal with it and get back on the ball. We have to be better. It is not about the playing skills. It is about character. They had more willingness to win and that can’t be: I think it is unacceptable.
Ten Hag added: “We have to pick the players up. But we also have to face that we let ourselves down, we have let the fans down. If you want to win trophies, if you want to be successful, you need character.
“I have had this [situation] many times: City, Liverpool, Brentford. And every time we bounced back. We have good mental skills, [but] on some occasions we are not there. What we have to accept now is that it is unacceptable. Everyone can see that the demands and the standard has to be higher in a club such as Manchester United.
“We have seen we can do it against Forest. We had the desire [then] and today we didn’t. You can expect that Manchester United players do it more consistently. Too often we have a really poor performance and that can’t be.”
The Manchester United midfielder Christian Eriksen said: “We didn’t really get in the game from the first minute. I think we tried, but today, we gave them a lot of opportunities to finish us off.”