Erik ten Hag has backed Manchester United fans who displayed a “Play Like You Mean It” banner during Saturday’s Premier League game at Fulham, saying the club’s players “can always be better.”
Captain Bruno Fernandes’ stoppage-time goal earned United a 1-0 win at Craven Cottage. The win followed two successive 3-0 home defeats against Manchester City and Newcastle which left Ten Hague under increasing pressure at Old Trafford.
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Despite a disappointing start to the season which has seen United lose eight games in all competitions, the club’s supporters have directed their frustration at the under-performing players rather than ex-Ajax coach Ten Haag.
And speaking in Denmark ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League Group A clash against FC Copenhagen, Ten Haag said it was his players’ duty to meet the standards demanded by the fans who made the banner.
“The players gave their effort but there can always be more,” Ten Haag said. “When you’re a player, a staff, we expect the highest standards at Manchester United [member] or manager.
“Our fans expect high standards. They expect you to win every game. And when you’re not playing well, you still have to win.”
United face Copenhagen after reviving their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages with a 3-2 win over the Danish champions at Old Trafford.
A win at the Perken Stadium, combined with a loss to Galatasaray in Munich on matchday four, would move United into second place ahead of a potentially-deciding game against the Turkish champions in Istanbul later this month.
And despite their poor results and performances so far this season, Ten Haag says United are still capable of competing in major competitions.
“We don’t play well but we are in a position where we are not too far away and we can compete for everything,” Ten Haag said.
“I’m happy with it but we want to play better. That’s our goal.”