Erik ten Hag blamed a lack of belief for Manchester United’s ‘hammering’ in Sunday’s 6-3 derby demolition at Manchester City.
After bouncing back from alarming defeats to Brighton and Brentford with four successive Premier League wins, the Red Devils were brought down to earth with a bump at the Etihad Stadium.
Erling Haaland and Phil Foden both scored a hat-trick as City went wild in the top-scoring Manchester derby.
Substitute Anthony Martial’s brace completed a superb second-half strike from Antony’s summer signing for United, but a number of fed up visiting fans had already headed for the exits by then.
“I also told the players (it was) a lack of confidence,” manager Ten Hag said. “I saw highlights. It was obvious that we weren’t defending (on) the front foot, we were letting them play.
“We were, in possession, not brave enough, made technical skill mistakes, decision mistakes, and then you got hammered.”
Telling the Dutchman that professional footballers should already believe in it, he said: “I think often it’s the other way around.
“So, for example, in the last five games we have brought that attitude onto the pitch. We have a strong conviction and conviction, we bring problems to opponents.
“Today was the other way around, but I think it’s normal in our process that the pattern has to increase and I think I clearly see it increasing.
“But you will have setbacks in this process and we need to learn from that, but point that out clearly.
“We can walk away from it, but if we do, we won’t get the solution.
“We will be very clear and then we have to move on. We will continue until the next game. »
Ten Hag says United players need to come to terms with this criticism and produce team performances similar to those shown in wins over Liverpool and Arsenal.
The Dutchman admitted the fact that he hadn’t played a league game since winning 28 days ago had had an effect, but said it was no excuse ‘when you don’t bring good performance”.
Instead, Ten Hag pointed out that the lack of belief nullified their rules and principles at the Etihad Stadium, where the soft defeat will not lead to the kind of punishment he meted out after the humiliating defeat at Brentford.
“The punishment had a reason – they passed us so we didn’t work hard enough,” said Ten Hag, who had his players run 13.8km the day after that loss – the distance the bees collectively exceeded them.
“Today it’s also mental but it’s a different mental issue, it’s like belief. It’s not always about punishment.
“Of course we have to criticize ourselves, we have to criticize each other, so I didn’t get the message out to the players well enough to get the conviction on the pitch and from that point on we we didn’t play our game, our way of playing.
“It’s disappointing but it’s good that it happens against City. But then you clearly understand what the problems are when you don’t bring it.
United return to the Premier League at Everton next Sunday, having traveled to Cyprus for Thursday’s Europa League clash against Omonia Nicosia.
Cristiano Ronaldo will be hoping to play a role in those fixtures after being left on the bench in the damaging loss at City.
“I wouldn’t bring him in because we’re 4-0 down out of respect for Cristiano, for his great career,” added Ten Hag.
“And the other thing, then there was the advantage that I could bring to Antony Martial (on). He needs the record, but I don’t want to point it out like that.