The defeat at the hands of Bournemouth a few days ago scarcely gave Manchester United encouragement, given their slim chances of surviving in the Champions League if they defeat Bayern Munich on Tuesday.
Nevertheless, midfielder Scott McTominay claims that the players are firmly behind the struggling Dutch coach, even though Erik ten Hag’s team has been wildly inconsistent this season, losing 11 of its 23 games across all competitions.
McTominay also acknowledged that for some of Ten Hag’s predecessors, things did not always work out as planned and occasionally turned poisonous.
“It is the players’ responsibility first and foremost, the players know that as well,” he told reporters on Monday.
“It is not just the case like (with) some of the other managers where it has been a little bit toxic at times.
“The boys are firmly behind the manager and that is the be all and end all. We have got (an) amazing coaching staff as well.”
Four organisations were banned for Ten Hag’s news conference prior to Chelsea’s Premier League match last week, and the team’s 3-0 home loss to Bournemouth did little to ease tensions at Old Trafford amid unfounded media allegations of dressing room divisions.
“People can get lost in translation and get carried away with what the players think and what they say behind closed doors — we just want to do well for the football club and it is as simple as that,” McTominay said.
If United wants to make it to the round of 16 of the Champions League, they must defeat Bayern, the clear leaders of Group A, and pray that Galatasaray and Copenhagen draw.
Although winning against Bayern is a long shot given how crazily unpredictable United’s team is, it is still possible. All that will matter is which United shows up—the team that dominated Chelsea the previous week or the one that looked horribly against Bournemouth?
“I never think in negative scenarios. We think positively. We have to win to stay in Europe; it is all about that,” Ten Hag told reporters. “We have shown in the last weeks that when we are at our best, we can do it.”
United’s Group A campaign began with a 4-3 loss away to Bayern, then they lost 3-2 at home to Galatasaray, although leading twice. In their penultimate group game, they were again led 2-0 against Galatasaray away from home, but they ended up drawing 3-3.
“We are inconsistent as a team, we have not been naive to that. We have spoken with coaching staff about it,” McTominay said. “As a group we have to come together and find out the answers to that. It is finding that consistency and balance.”
United will play host to Bayern at home and then travel to Liverpool, the top team in the Premier League, during a pivotal week. Fans of United seem to be behind Ten Hag, at least for the time being.
“I hope the fans are together with us,” he said. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve always sensed a strong bond between the team and the fans. Even when we’ve had big setbacks.
“But we have to take responsibility and energise them.”