Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag rues ‘worst defeat’ but vows to fight on

Erik ten Hag acknowledged Manchester United’s 4-0 defeat at Crystal Palace was the lowest point of their season so far but insisted he remained the right man to turn around the fortunes of the club.

Injury-hit United suffered their heaviest loss of the campaign as Michael Olise, who has been linked with a move to Old Trafford this summer, run amok at Selhurst Park with a dazzling two-goal display.

Olise broke the deadlock in the 12th minute and made it 4-0 with 24 minutes left, while Jean-Philippe Mateta and Tyrick Mitchell were on target in between for Oliver Glasner’s team.

It was another sorry display from Ten Hag’s side and eighth-placed United could be set for their lowest ever Premier League finish.

United finished seventh in the 2013-14 campaign – the first after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson – on 64 points, but they can no longer reach that total and trail sixth-placed Newcastle by two points with three games left.

Asked if he believed he was the right person to restore United’s fortunes, Ten Hag told Sky Sports: “Absolutely. And if the right players are there, available, we have a good squad, but we miss almost the whole back line and then we have problems.

“It is very disappointing. Under-performing. Definitely the worst defeat. We should have done better.

“We are aware, as a team performance, we were not correct, making big mistakes and not following the plan and the script and the rules we have.

“Yes (a low point), it was very poor how we gave the goals away, especially when we prepare the team and the conceding of the first goal is very disappointing.”

United arrived in south London without Harry Maguire and captain Bruno Fernandes, but veteran Jonny Evans was fit enough to start and he partnered Casemiro in defence.

Both ended up on the deck in the first half as Olise left Casemiro sprawled on the floor by the centre circle before he drilled a shot into the bottom corner, having been given the freedom of Selhurst Park by United’s backpedalling defence.

Then Mateta burst past Evans to rifle beyond Andre Onama after 40 minutes to give the hosts’ a deserved half-time lead.

United barely threatened but did have a 27th-minute effort by Casemiro ruled out after Rasmus Hojlund barged into Palace goalkeeper Dean Henderson.

Antony’s weak 22-yard shot after 51 minutes was the visitors’ first on target, but Mitchell tapped in seven minutes later for Palace after Adam Wharton picked out Joachim Anderson.

Olise provided a fitting finale when curled beyond Onana with 66 minutes on the clock after Daniel Munoz had been too strong for Casemiro.

It made it an unwanted record-breaking night for United, who have now suffered 13 league defeats, the most they have ever recorded in a Premier League season, while they have conceded 81 goals in all competitions, the most in a single campaign since 1976-77.

Ten Hag added: “Actually, yes (it was out of the blue), because this is fourth defeat in 2024.

“So far you have always seen a team that was playing and following the script. That is why, (yes) we didn’t have a lot of wins, but we were hard to beat. Today we were easy to beat.

“I am sure that the players had the right intention to come on and they were eager from the start, but once we were playing we didn’t perform. Individuals didn’t perform and, as a team, we didn’t perform.”

Palace boss Glasner lauded his team but was not completely happy with the display.

“Yeah, congrats to the team for the result and the performance, especially in the second half. I think first half we can do better,” he said.

“We had some adaptions at half-time and second half, especially after the third goal, we played really great football.

“The players had a lot of fun being on the pitch.”


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