EPL

Ten Hag unhappy with 'unacceptable' second-half dip in Villa draw

By Sports Desk July 23, 2022

Erik ten Hag says there can be no excuse for Manchester United's "unacceptable" second-half display after they let a two-goal lead slip in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Aston Villa.

Jadon Sancho's third goal of pre-season and a Matty Cash own goal put United in a commanding position at half-time in the friendly at Optus Stadium in Perth.

However, the Red Devils were unable to see out a fourth win in four outings, as Leon Bailey pulled one back and Calum Chambers headed in a 93rd-minute leveller.

While disappointed his side dropped off after the break, Ten Hag is glad it happened in a friendly rather than in a competitive contest.

"I said in the dressing room, a drop of focus is unacceptable, but I'm happy because now I can tell them it cannot happen [again]," he said in his post-match news conference.

"[At the start of the second half you] have to get out of the dressing room and back in your plan and your focus and back to your performance and that is what we didn't do.

"We had a lot of movement behind the defending line, scored two great goals, so we were 2-0 up at half-time, and then our focus dropped."

United's fourth and final friendly in 11 days on their tour of Thailand and Australia was played in wet conditions, with concerns raised over the quality of the pitch ahead of kick-off.

Ten Hag did not want to use the playing surface as a reason for their shortcomings.

"It can be that the guys are tired, but that's not an excuse. They have to perform and it is what we didn't do in the second half," he said.

"It was the focus. I don't want to make excuses about the pitch or weather. No matter what, we have to perform.

"Football is a sport of mistakes and we have to decrease the mistakes. That's clear, but I have seen a lot of progress in these two weeks.

"In the first half I saw really good football, really controlling and dominating the game, but we have to learn from what happened in the second half. 

"It's not possible that you go 2-0 [ahead] and then throw it away."

United face Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano next weekend in their final outings ahead of taking on Brighton and Hove Albion in their opening Premier League match.

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