Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has insisted his players can still rescue what has so far been a hugely disappointing season.
“This squad is resilient,” the Dutchman said after he had witnessed his side lose 4-3 to FC Copenhagen in the Champions League on Wednesday.
“The whole season so many decisions are against us, so many setbacks or injuries. And every time there is a spirit and there is a fight and we will keep going because I’m sure it will turn. Built on one moment in the season, it will turn in our favour.”
The defeat in Denmark was United’s ninth in their first 17 games this season, which has seen them knocked out of the Carabao Cup, slump to eighth in the Premier League, and on the brink of being knocked out of the Champions League.
United had enjoyed an encouraging start in the Danish capital where they went 2-0 in front after 28 minutes with both goals from Rasmus Hojlund.
“We play very good, and I think we started the game so well, the best minutes of this season,” Ten Hag said. “We are winning the game and I think the red card changes everything. And then we concede two goals before half-time which should never have counted.”
“Their first goal is an offside goal. There is a player in front of Andre Onana, the second it’s like a ball on the hand. It is defending, but it’s so close and the hands are in a normal position. So what can you do for it?”
“The same like Christian Eriksen in Munich. What can you do for it? And also for Scott McTominay at Sheffield United, it’s very debatable. And I think the game can’t be like this, that it has to be a certain aspect of objective and that’s not the case.”
Three minutes before half-time the United striker Marcus Rashford was shown a straight red card after the intervention of VAR for what appeared to be an accidental stamp on Elias Jelert’s ankle.
“It’s harsh as I think he went for the ball and the referee has such a long time,” said a frustrated Ten Hag. “They need such a long time to make it a red card.”
“I think when you freeze it, it looks always worse. And as I say, it takes them so long and they make a red card of it. I’m very disappointed about such decisions. I think the game is never meant to be like this.”
“This has nothing to do with football. Decisions have to be made and I accept that there are also wrong decisions made. If I sum it up, then you make on this level three such tough decisions… you control the game, and I think the game is never meant to be for that.”
United regained the lead after 69 minutes through a penalty from Bruno Fernandes, before FC Copenhagen scored in the 83rd and 87th minutes to secure a dramatic 4-3 win.
“Football is a game of mistakes. I will not say we did everything right, but I take a lot of positives. Even with 10 men we were dictating the game and we played very good. And so yeah, we are very disappointed that in the end that you take nothing from this, because it could have been different.”
“I say we didn’t do everything right, but I say we did many things right tonight, but still we are there with no points and we are very disappointed about that.”