Man Utd vs Man City: Erik ten Hag disagrees with Jamie Carragher that his team have gone backwards this season
Erik ten Hag has disagreed with Jamie Carragher’s comments that Manchester United are going backwards this season – saying the statistics show his team has actually improved.
United host local rivals Manchester City in a Super Sunday derby this weekend Air sports with kick-off at 3:30 PM, in the final acid test to see to what extent the Ten Hag team has improved compared to last season.
In his column in The Daily TelegraphCarragher said United’s summer signings have led to the club becoming ‘stale’ – and Ten Hag must now be questioned over his ability to get the best out of his squad.
But in his press conference prior to the match against City, Ten Hag hit back at those claims.
“We have to do better in possession, but there are reasons for that and I won’t go into that. But everyone sees why. But there are also facts, so I don’t agree (with Carragher), we are a lot better,” said Ten Hag. .
“If we regain the ball at a high level, we will be at the top of the Premier League. In the middle (of the pitch) we are top. The pressing is very good. So that is not the truth, what he (Carragher) tells.” “
In the fortnight in which United have recorded three consecutive wins against Brentford, Sheffield United and FC Copenhagen, albeit via far from convincing performances, Christian Eriksen said United still need to find their “balance and routines” this season.
Asked about those comments, Ten Hag said: “We are in the right direction. We still have a way to go. I see positive sides, but I see negative sides.
What Christian is getting at is that we are not consistently in possession of the ball at the level we can be at. Like Arsenal away, the first thirty minutes in Bayern Munich. We need to do this on a consistent basis.
“We don’t take advantage of the attacking transition moments, we should do that because the ability in the team can benefit from it. We pay attention to it, we have to grow. Then matches become easier.”
So, what do the statistics say?
Sam Blitz from Sky Sports:
Ten Hag is indeed right: Manchester United score very high in their key statistics in the final two-thirds of the field.
United are, as he says, “top of the Premier League” when it comes to possession won in the final third and high turnovers. He is slightly wrong when it comes to winning the ball in the middle third of the pitch, with United in second place behind Everton in the statistical table.
However, there is still work to be done when it comes to improving United’s pressing. Their Passes Allowed Per Defensive Action (PPDA) ranks 10th (average) in the league. It shows that although Ten Hag’s side win the ball high up the pitch, their opponents tend to keep the ball and also play it around United’s attackers.
What is PPDA?
PPDA is the number of allowed passes by the opponent outside the pressing team’s own defensive third, divided by the number of defensive actions of the pressing team outside the pressing team’s own defensive third. A lower number indicates a higher press level, while a higher number indicates a lower press level.
United’s other pressing problem, which Ten Hag referred to in the press conference on Friday, is finishing chances when they win the ball high.
United have the fourth highest number of shots after winning the ball in their final third, but the standout statistic is that no goals have been scored from 104 high turnovers.
As expected, Manchester City have the highest number of attacks in the Premier League this season, so if United win the ball high in Sunday’s derby, they should start taking those chances.
Ten Hag about attackers’ mistakes: we have to be better
United go into Sunday’s derby with a slight goalscoring problem. City striker Erling Haaland has scored more Premier League goals this season (9) than United’s five strikers in all competitions (8).
United’s top scorer this season is defensive midfielder Casemiro, with four goals so far.
When asked if their attackers are responsible for this problem on the front line, Ten Hag replied: “Wrong? It’s cooperation. It has to click.
“We have shown in some matches that we have so many players in overload positions in front of the opponent’s goal and we don’t score or even hit the goal. We should do this better.”
It has been a sobering start to the season for Marcus Rashford, who has scored one goal for United so far this season. But Ten Hag says he has full confidence that the English attacker, who scored thirty goals last season, can find his scoring boots again.
“If you give him the confidence and I play him every match, he will score most matches. I have great confidence that he will score many goals again,” said Ten Hag.
“It also has to do with the collaboration, with the movement around and the distribution towards him. We have to work on that and that is my focus point.”