Erik ten Hag will hold individual talks with his Manchester United players in a bid to halt their alarming start to the season – after claiming his side are collapsing “like a pack of cards”.
United travel to Burnley tonight under mounting pressure and with Ten Hag denying reports of dressing room unrest after four defeats in five games, during which time they have conceded 14 goals. The last time United lost four successive games was the winter of discontent under Louis van Gaal in December 2015.
Ten Hag wants answers for the repeat defensive meltdowns and says he will leave no stone unturned in his efforts to address the drop in standards and mentality.
Asked if he knew why his team was not defending properly, the United manager said: “No. When you are in a period like we are in, always as a manager you are asking yourself these questions. My job is to get them to do the job.
“As a manager you have many tools and I make sure I use them. You do it in groups, with the team, individually, you do it over video, you do it in personal talks.
“I always tell my players we attack with 11 and defend with 11. When one or two are not doing their job then it’s like a pack of cards. So that is not only one or two players.”
Ten Hag accused his players of not running or following his instructions in the 2-0 defeat to Spurs last month. Since then United were forced to come from two down after four minutes in a 3-2 win against the 10 men of Nottingham Forest before slumping to three consecutive defeats against Arsenal, Brighton and Bayern Munich.
United are facing two more shots on target per game on average in the Premier League this term compared to last season and Ten Hag knows they have to tighten up – and fast.
“We have shown that we can do it because last year we had the most clean sheets in the Premier League because we defended very good as a team,” he said. “So we have to get back to that standard.
“I am pushing and demanding from the team from the start of the season but they are human beings, not robots, so why are they not doing it? I try to find out. I try to get and give the solutions and try to motivate the players to do the job.”
Burnley, who have just one point from four games, might be as good a place to start as any. We will have team news and updates from 7pm, and the match then kicks off at 8pm.