Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has spoken out after his side’s 3-1 Premier League defeat to Aston Villa. The Red Devils had gone into the fixture on a high after winning their last three matches across all competitions. However, they were brought crashing back down to earth courtesy of goals from Leon Bailey, Lucas Digne and Jacob Ramsey – with Luke Shaw’s deflected effort only a consolation for the visitors.
Manchester United were ruthlessly put to the sword by Aston Villa, who turned on the style in their first match of the Unai Emery era.
Bailey put the hosts ahead in the seventh minute, expertly finishing past David De Gea after some fine work from Ollie Watkins.
Digne proceeded to double their advantage four minutes later, curling a free-kick into the corner and beyong De Gea’s reach.
United were able to respond just before the interval, with Shaw’s deflected effort hitting Jacob Ramsey and sailing into the net.
But Villa weren’t to be pegged back and restored their two-goal advantage through Ramsey, whose powerful effort sent the home crowd into a state of ecstasy.
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And Ten Hag, speaking after the game, has now rued United’s poor start to the game and insisted they didn’t deserve anything from the contest – while accusing his players of ‘not following the rules’.
“We lose the game start of the first half and second half, that is unacceptable,” said the 52-year-old, who has now lost four of his league games this term. “They looked more fresh, more ready.
“After a long time this has happened, I said it was up to us.
“We didn’t keep the ball, we didn’t get the right organisation, didn’t follow the rules and lost battles.
“The result is clear, it never lies. In football you always get your own earnings. Today we were not good enough.”
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Shaw also spoke out after the game and lamented United’s poor start, while insisting the defeat was of their own making.
“We lost the game in the first 20 minutes of each half,” he told BBC Sport.
“We knew they were going to come out, new manager and the crowd would be behind them.
“In games like this, if you start slowly then we will lose the game. We weren’t good enough.
“We started sloppy, gave the ball away too easily, that is not good enough. We suffered today, we did not deserve to win.”
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While it was a chastening day at the office for United, however, Emery hailed his Aston Villa players for rising to the occasion and securing the win.
“The supporters were amazing supporting us and the players were great with the plan,” said the Spaniard, who quit Villarreal to work in the Midlands.
“First step is take confidence, start with energy and the supporters supported with their response.
“We have the players with the good skills.
“The way we played the 90 minutes we can be optimistic but only first step and we have to work a lot to keep improving.”
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And goalscorer Ramsey added: “It’s been a tough couple of weeks with the old gaffer getting sacked.
“There has been a lot of tactical work this week and the game plan worked.
“When the new gaffer came in he said it was a clean slate. He gave us a lot of confidence and belief and I think it showed on the pitch.
“Manchester United have got top players and we knew we were going to be on the back-foot for periods.”
On his goal, he said: “Ollie [Watkins] is good at taking on players and he has put it on a plate for me.”