MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Manchester United’s Dutch manager Erik ten Hag earned his first Premier League victory with a 2-1 derby win over Liverpool on Monday and then credited his team’s attitude for the victory.
United looked a completely different team to the one which was humiliated 4-0 at Brentford last week after an opening day home loss to Brighton & Hove Albion.
The former Ajax Amsterdam manager left out captain Harry Maguire and talisman Cristiano Ronaldo and his decision to go for pace up front and a new look defence paid off.
“We can talk about tactical but it is all about attitude. There was communication and a fighting spirit,” said the United boss.
“I wanted a different approach and a different attitude and that is what they brought on the pitch. It is only a start. We can play with much more composure and much more danger. Be a team and have a good spirit – and that is what we saw today,” he added.
Marcus Rashford netted his first league goal since January after fellow England international Jadon Sancho, who has also struggled of late, opened the scoring.
“It makes me happy that Rashford and Sancho got the goals. (Bruno) Fernandes took the responsibility and the captaincy encouraged him.
“I am happy with the performance but we have to bring it every game. Don’t just bring it against Liverpool. Every Premier League game is difficult, we need to bring it to every game. It starts, once again, with the spirit,” he said.
Liverpool remain without a win after their opening three games of the season and manager Juergen Klopp was far from happy.
“We are in a tricky situation injury wise. We got through the week with 14, 15 senior players available and now have to make sure they don’t get injured. We should have won this game. I know it sounds ridiculous but that is how I saw it,” he said.
“I am concerned about our situation, but that is how it is. We prepare for Bournemouth (on Saturday) and Newcastle (next Wednesday) now.” he added.
“It was not a perfect performance, it was clear United would get out of the blocks but we were not 100% ready.
“We had to keep chasing the game and that is not what you want to do. It makes it difficult with their counter-attacking threat. The second goal is hard to take, it was offside, but we have to work with it,” added the German.
(Reporting by Simon Evans, Editing by Ken Ferris)