Ten Hag hits back at Liverpool icon’s criticism of his Manchester United side

Erik ten Hag has criticised Jamie Carragher for lacking objectivity after the pundit's scathing analysis of Manchester United on Sky Sports' Monday Night Football (Credit: Imago/PA Images)

Ten Hag hits back at Liverpool icon’s criticism of his Manchester United side

Seye Omidiora 15:58 - 27.02.2024

Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag has criticised Jamie Carragher's lack of objectivity after the pundit's scathing analysis of the Red Devils on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football.

Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag has hit out at Liverpool icon turned Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher for his criticism of the Red Devils.

What Carragher said about Manchester United on Monday Night Football

Analysing the Manchester outfit’s latest Premier League defeat against Fulham, Carragher pointed to the lack of tactical instruction and absence of patterns of play.

“I want to highlight Mainoo, who has been fantastic since he came in, but the problem I have – it’s not a criticism of him – what are his instructions before the game?” said Carragher on Monday. "This is straight from kick-off, he is not sure whether he should close down the holding midfield player or looking at the number 10, he’s caught, straight from kick-off – you should know your jobs straight from kick-off and that’s down to the coaching staff.

“Twenty seconds into the game against Fulham, it’s been the problem for Manchester United all season, there’s space between the back four and the midfield.  We go to the reason why they’re poor defensively and can’t cope with counter-attacks, they’ve got no pace at the back and a lack of legs in midfield.

Jamie Carragher
Jamie Carragher criticised Manchester United on Monday Night Football (Credit: Sky Sports)

Furthermore, the retired centre-back castigated the minimal patterns of play under Ten Hag.

“People say: ‘There are no patterns of play at Manchester United, how do they play and what’s the philosophy?’” continued Carragher. “I’ll tell you why there are no patterns of play and why they get done on the counter-attack, the positions they find themselves in.

“When Varane is on the ball, you’ve got you right-back, he can’t receive a pass, Mainoo – your central midfield player – he’s on the last line, that can’t be right – it’s not right. Bruno Fernandes, on the last line, playing like a striker, he’s a number 10, Victor Lindelof can’t receive the ball, the players can’t receive the ball in the positions they pick.

“There’s a massive problem for Manchester United when they’re on the ball… how many times do you see players running back 40 yards towards goal.”

What did Ten Hag say in response to Carragher’s criticism of Manchester United?

Speaking in his press conference before the Red Devils take on Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup fifth round, Ten Hag hit back at Carragher for lacking objectivity.

“Some analysts are very objective and some are very subjective,” retorted Ten Hag.  “Jamie Carragher, from the first moment, has criticised and now he wants to make his point.  Probably in the first half an hour he had a point, Fulham’s midfield set-up surprised us and we had to find solutions and after half an hour we found them.

“In previous weeks it was there from this team and therefore we won games. Footballers aren’t robots, and sometimes they have bad games.”

What comes next for Ten Hag’s Manchester United?

Ten Hag, whose future has been under the spotlight, with Brighton & Hove Albion boss Roberto De Zerbi reportedly considered, takes his Man United side to Forest in Wednesday’s FA Cup fifth round, a competition providing their final opportunity for a trophy in 2023-24.

Afterwards, the Red Devils return to Premier League duty in the Manchester derby to be held at the Etihad Stadium, keen to return to winning ways after last Saturday’s 2-1 home loss to Fulham.  Ten Hag’s side battle Everton and Sheffield United on March 9 and 16 before the imminent international break.