Christian Eriksen says Manchester United must iron out their inconsistencies after a limp defeat at Nottingham Forest that was “hard to swallow” but “nothing new”.
Erik ten Hag’s side have seen forward momentum followed by setbacks on numerous occasions this season, with the conclusion to 2023 epitomising their ongoing issues.
Old Trafford was rocking on Boxing Day as United secured a brilliant 3-2 comeback against Aston Villa, but their performance regressed on the banks of the Trent on Saturday evening.
Morgan Gibbs-White’s late strike sealed Forest a memorable 2-1 triumph as United suffered a 21st defeat of the calendar year, and 14th in all competitions of a chastening campaign.
“Disappointed,” midfielder Eriksen said when summing up the dressing room mood. “I think we came out with the belief that we’re going to get the three points.
“I think in the biggest part of the game we were in a good position to get the three points.
“Obviously the goals were tough, the moments we conceded, but, in the end, we have zero points which is not good enough.”
United were dealing with a string of absentees at the City Ground, including Boxing Day matchwinner Rasmus Hojlund through illness.
That offers some mitigation but the overall performance was far too meek and loose, only increasing the pressure on under-fire Ten Hag and his players.
“We have to look forward, we have to work to get back,” Eriksen said.
“I mean, this season has been a lot of ups and downs, so it’s nothing new for us.
“This of course is hard to swallow, but we have to get back up and there’s no other way than focus on the next game.”
United return to action at Wigan in the FA Cup third round on January 8 and then host Tottenham in what is their only scheduled January fixture in the Premier League.
“(We must) be together as a team,” Eriksen told MUTV. “I mean, in all careers, all football clubs, there’ll be ups and downs and you have to go through them.
“I’ve personally found the best way forward is to work hard and really look ahead, and I think that’ll be the same for us as players that we have to put this behind us.
“First of all, of course, see what has gone wrong and change a few things, but in the end to work hard and try to get through to the next one.”
While United nurse their wounds, Forest head into 2024 buoyed by two impressive scalps in five days.
Chris Wood’s hat-trick secured a 3-1 win at Newcastle on Boxing Day and Saturday’s heroics at the City Ground wrapped up a first win against United since 1994.
Nuno Espirito Santo has overseen quite the change in fortunes since replacing popular Steve Cooper on December 20 but the Forest manager knows there is much more to come from his players.
“They are working hard,” the Portuguese said. “They are believing in themselves.
“They are working as a team and helping each other, not only with the ball but without the ball.
“We have a lot of things to improve but the credit goes to them. It’s them, it’s them, they are reacting very well.
“We give them belief by telling them to try to find each other, try to play, because that’s the only way that you can evolve as a team.
“If you don’t try things, if you don’t make mistakes, the important thing is the reaction to the mistakes, so they are doing that.
“But there is a long way to go. We are here and all of us know this is just the beginning.”