SOUTHAMPTON, England (Reuters) – Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag hailed his side’s fighting spirit after they claimed a slender 1-0 win at Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday but added that there was still much to improve, especially in possession.
Bruno Fernandes’ second-half strike was the difference between the two sides as United notched up their second straight win and ended a seven-match losing streak on the road stretching back to last season.
“At the start of the game we could have created more. It is the start of the season, it is tough. You have to battle and we did that today so we were rewarded,” Ten Hag told reporters.
“I think the players learnt some lessons from Brentford. We were more compact on the long balls. Of course, we were really happy. The goal we created, we could have made more.”
United failed to add a second and were sloppy in possession in the final half hour, with Southampton twice coming close to a deserved equaliser.
“We kept control straight after half time, moved it around and we created three really good chances straight after half time. I still feel there’s room for improvement, to control more, but we are not that long in our way,” added Ten Hag.
“You hope to have more control in the last 30 minutes of the game.”
Asked about Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at the club, Ten Hag said he was still part of his plans amid speculation that the Portugal forward wants to leave Old Trafford to play in the Champions League.
“We plan with him. We want him to stay. I hope (he stays),” he said, adding that United were looking to strengthen their squad before the transfer window closes next Thursday night.
(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)