Manchester United need to get ‘smarter’ after a good 3-0 win over Bournemouth on Tuesday, Erik ten Hag says.
United moved up level with third-placed Newcastle United in the Premier League table and also five points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur when Casemiro, Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford scored on the scoresheet at Old Trafford .
The Red Devils look well set to aim for a top four finish after winning four straight league games on either side of the World Cup break.
But after seeing David de Gea make great saves to fend off Philip Billing and Jadon Anthony as United were 2-0 up, Ten Hag was frustrated by what he saw as a lack of control.
“I am pleased with the result. It wasn’t our best game today,” he told BBC Sport. “We have to be honest, we didn’t play as smart as a team.
“We scored great goals, but at times we got lucky and had some great saves from David. We could be smarter as a team.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 3, 2023
“When the score was 2-0 there were big gaps, sometimes we had to keep the ball and understand when to shoot on goal. This is the next step.”
A fit forward Rashford was reintroduced to United’s squad, scoring the winning goal off the bench at Wolves on Saturday after his lateness to a team meeting led to him being ejected.
Ending the win with a late entry, Rashford scored in three successive Premier League matches.
“It was again a great performance from him,” Ten Hag said of Rashford.
“I said before the season, and the same with [Anthony] Martial, I believe in goals because [other] players will always create, so focus from the first minute and the chances will come.”
4 – Marcus Rashford has scored four straight games in all competitions for the first time in his Manchester United career. Guarantee. pic.twitter.com/TWRFVUsjNk
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 3, 2023
United will face title contenders Manchester City and Arsenal in the next two Premier League fixtures, but Ten Hag doesn’t want to look past Friday’s FA Cup third round tie against Everton, who could very well have a new manager. if Frank Lampard is sacked after a 4-1 resignation at the hands of Brighton and Hove Albion.
“We have to move from game to game. The next game is a cup game, but we want to win every game. This should be the approach,” he added.
“We don’t want to look any further, we’ll focus on that, it’s going to be a tough game. We need all the energy to prepare and start on Friday.”