Erik Ten Hag insisted Manchester United were still “on the up” despite being comprehensively outplayed by rivals Manchester City in Sunday’s derby.
Erling Haaland struck twice – the first from the penalty spot – and Phil Foden added another as treble winners City eased to a 3-0 win in a one-sided Premier League encounter at Old Trafford. The result underlined City’s superiority over their neighbours – the gap between the sides now being nine points after 10 games – and emphatically ended any suggestion United might have turned a corner after winning their previous three matches.
Manager Ten Hag nevertheless put a on brave face on what proved a chastening afternoon for the club’s fans. The Dutchman said: “The three games before we won and the spirit is very good. The fighting spirit is very good. I think we are on the way up. The start was difficult, but now we are on a way up. We have to be patient, but I’m happy some of our injuries are coming back and then our side will be stronger.”
Ten Hag felt United were competitive in the first half, which they ended trailing only 1-0 after Haaland’s 26th-minute penalty. He said: “When you see the first half, it’s toe-to-toe. Just the penalty changes the game. But even then we could have got back in the game, for instance with that shot of Scott McTominay just before half-time. So, I think from chance it was very toe-to-toe.”