Ten Hag: It was a narrow escape
Erik ten Hag has provided his view on Manchester United's dramatic 1-0 win over FC Copenhagen in the UEFA Champions League.
The Reds were leading into the closing seconds of stoppage time, courtesy of Harry Maguire's second-half header, but conceded a penalty, which was taken by Jordan Larsson. Cometh the hour, cometh the man and Andre Onana flung himself to his left to pull off a wonderful save to spark joyous scenes of celebration.
The boss spoke to TNT Sports, MUTV and other official broadcasters afterwards and was clearly relieved that we are now just a point off second-placed Galatasaray in the Group A table.
Here is some of what he had to say...
WE NEEDED THAT
"I'm very pleased, it was a narrow escape as we needed to win. We worked very hard to get that win. It was a poor first half but then, to come into the game, score that goal, and then concede a soft penalty. So it was important as we needed a win today. I think we created some chances but we didn't take them. It is good that a defender is coming forward and scoring a brilliant goal, with a great assist from Christian Eriksen. I think we should have scored more but also we could have conceded more goals. So 1-0 and I'm happy with it, a clean sheet and we scored."
"It's always going to be complicated. It belongs to the DNA of Manchester United. It was a crazy game, a nervous game for us in the end. I don't have an influence on that [the penalty] and you feel bad in such moments because we'd worked so hard for the win and then, just in the dying seconds, we concede the penalty and then it gives Andre the platform to show his skills. I think it was a great save."
"Christian is always positive and, as you see, he brings football. We didn’t have the football in the first half – it was difficult. Copenhagen are well organised, so you have the break them and find the right moment to make the double six, the timings, and Christian is good at that. He’s composed and makes the right passes. He has intelligence and then his decision-making on the ball is often very good, not only the goal but also his passing distribution is so good."
CHANGES IN PERSONNEL
"Every time we have to change at the back. If you look back to last year, we had a very good back four, so consistent with Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro in front. All the time, we controlled the game by possession. And Eriksen, when we have a lot of possession, can make the difference. But this season, every time we have to adjustments at the back and the routines go away, the midfield opens up and we struggle to get the right balance. We have seen games this season when we didn’t have good possession with Christian, Bruno Fernandes and Casemiro in the midfield, and we lose the control in the midfield. So it’s about balance and I’m sure when we get the routines back, especially in the back four, and it’s consistent, that gives them the foundation to play on."
ONANA ON SONG
"I know how good he is and the skills he has. At United, you have to show it every game, having the right focus and mindset. If he has that, he will perform. I think it's very important for him. Of course, he had some criticism but now he saves the points for the lads, it was a brilliant save just after half-time also. You can see this team is growing, we have a lot of setbacks as a team but, in the dressing room, we deal with it and, slowly, we are coming forward."
"Absolutely, it's normal. Playing at Manchester United, we have to win. When the team is not winning, everyone is criticised and some players get more criticism than others, especially Harry and Andre. It was, more or less, over the top but this gets confidence for both of them and will help the team to make the next step."
"We have to go from game to game. Today, we have seen there are no easy games. Copenhagen were playing well, organised. The next game is against them so, if you don't play your levels, you don't go far against them. If you want come through, you have to collect points. We need at least two wins more and, the next game, we have another opportunity."
DERBY DAY UPCOMING
"It gives belief, the next game is coming very quickly. It is a very tricky one [as you say] as we're playing against a good side but we know what we are capable of. As always, it's a special game in the city. We will be ready, I'm sure, the players are already now excited. Especially now in a week where Sir Bobby passed away, we will, of course, give extra to get the three points here."