Erik ten Hag has pleaded for patience from Manchester United fans after his side’s resurgence stepped into a new gear with Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Arsenal.
Memories of the side who lost 4-0 to Brentford earlier this summer were banished as two goals from Marcus Rashford and a debut strike from €100m man Antony secured a huge victory over an Arsenal side who were top of the league with the only unbeaten record heading into the game.
After the game, Ten Hag was asked whether fans should start dreaming of a Premier League title challenge this season, and while the boss was delighted with his side’s progress, he moved to temper expectations at this early stage of his tenure.
“I understand fans are dreaming, the standards of Manchester United have to be good,” he said. “[But] we’re at the start of a process, we’re still far away, we have to get doing things much better than we do. That [will happen by] an investment, we have to do this together every day, bring those high standards to Carrington [training base].
“We have to get better if you want to win trophies in the end. We have to win every game, they [supporters] have to see that is the attitude: that we have to [want to] win games. We live those high standards and values and when you show discipline in that you create a winning culture, that is what we have to work for.
“I’m not thinking we’re there but we’re on our way in a good direction. We have to keep this process going.”
One of the biggest positives for Ten Hag was United’s attitude and mental strength during the game, and he praised his players’ improved ability to cope with setbacks and adversity.
“We are happy and satisfied with the win, also the performance against a really good team – they played really well,” he told BBC Sport. “The spirit from this team, they can deal with setbacks so we did, it is really great and shows your mentality – we have really improved on that.
“We have the right characters and now it is about cooperation, deal with set backs but also improve – we have to stay calm, stay composed and play our game. You can see that Arsenal are more together, more routines – but our team spirit brings us the win.
“We can still do things better, with pressing, we had a good plan but the incoming from Zinchenko for instance, that gives them an overload in midfield. We can be more composed on the ball, don’t give it away. When we got beat in the press we fought back and recovered, especially in transitions we were good.”