Why United's responses to losses give Erik belief

Monday 03 April 2023 15:29

Manchester United suffered just the eighth defeat of Erik ten Hag’s reign on Sunday with a 2-0 defeat away to Newcastle United.

It was a disappointing afternoon altogether for the Reds, who attempted to make a strong start to the season’s run-in, but ultimately left the north-east with nothing after decisive second-half goals from Joe Willock and Callum Wilson.

Despite a difficult 90 minutes for his side, Ten Hag’s belief in his players remained after the final whistle, and his words suggested confidence in their ability to respond in our next outing, at home to Brentford on Wednesday.

“It's normal. In a season you have setbacks, and you have to deal with that,” he insisted post-match.

Ten Hag reacts to Tyneside defeat


See what the boss said to the media following our 2-0 loss to Newcastle on Sunday.

“We did that so many times, recently after [losing to] Liverpool we came back so I don’t have that concern. I believe in my team. 

“I believe they will bounce back.”

As our record after defeats this season suggests, that faith from the manager is more than warranted, before our midweek return to Old Trafford. 

With the exception of the 4-0 loss in the reverse fixture against the Bees, which followed on from our opening-day defeat to Brighton, United have won six of the seven games played after being beaten this season. The first came way back in August, as the Reds put that painful evening at the Gtech Community Stadium behind us with a memorable Old Trafford win over Liverpool nine days later.

In September – either side of a free weekend following the postponement of our trip to Crystal Palace – Ten Hag’s side responded to losing our Europa League group-stage opener by getting the better of Sheriff Tiraspol in Moldova on matchday two.

The Europa League would also be the competition in which we'd immediately get back to winning ways, after October’s derby-day defeat at the Etihad Stadium, with a win over Omonia Nicosia in Cyprus later that week.

Four days after going down to Aston Villa in the Premier League, the Reds ensured that there would be no repeat, winning November’s Carabao Cup third-round meeting versus the Villans, and since the World Cup, first-leg cup triumphs over Nottingham Forest (League Cup semi-final) and Real Betis (Europa League last 16) have come just after tough days away days at Arsenal and Liverpool respectively.

Three of those bounce-back outings came at Old Trafford, and the special connection that has been garnered between the home support and the team this season will have certainly played its part when the latter have needed to get up off the canvas previously.

Our home support will be key again on Wednesday night.

The Reds now return to M16 in midweek and will be working to achieve a similar result when Brentford come to town. 

Just one loss has followed at the Theatre of Dreams since the opening day, as our home ground has very much returned to being a fortress, built on solid foundations at the back. Only Barcelona have conceded fewer goals on their own turf in Europe’s top-five leagues than United this season.

That resilience will no doubt be well and truly put to the test by an in-form Brentford side – who have lost just one of their last 16 Premier League outings – but there is plenty of reason to believe that United can put up a valiant response to the defeat at Newcastle come Wednesday night.

The Reds will be eager to make use of another quick turnaround in fixtures, particularly as it presents the chance to put things right in the Premier League right away, as we look to reassert our top-four credentials.